Nationally about 41 percent of all students get their education at community colleges. While starting at SVCC has always been a smart move, in today’s uncertain economy, it makes even more sense.
Consider this: Tuition at SVCC is $3,200 a year for 30 credit hours. That same credit load would cost $10,350 at Illinois State University, $11,982 at Northern Illinois University, $12,036 at the University of Illinois, $8405 at Western Illinois University and about $12,600 at a private institution such as Ashford University.
That means if you spend two years at Sauk and transfer to a four-year university for the rest of your education, you can expect to save anywhere from $10,410 to $18,800. WOW. And this does not even include the room and board you will pay there.
Is the value of a college education related to its cost?
Transfer students get exactly the same diploma as students who spent four years—and a lot more money—at a four-year institution. While Sauk academic courses come in a slightly different wrapper, the quality and content are top-notch. Classes are small, the faculty is committed to teaching, and Sauk credits transfer to universities all over the country.
So if you start out at a four-year university, you might get to share a tiny dorm room with two other students, gain your freshman 15 on dining hall food and gaze at a few ivory towers but you’re not going to get a better education.
Two easy ways to transfer
One of the reasons community colleges were created was to provide the first two years of a four-year degree at low cost and be close to home. So naturally we do it well. Our classes are designed to transfer; our academic counselors know where the best four-year programs are, and our instructors will inspire you to do
What if I don’t have a plan—or a major?
You’re certainly not alone if you want to explore your interests before you declare a major. According to the Web site MyMajors.com, as many as 80 percent of incoming freshman haven’t settled on a program of study yet.
Sauk’s Dean of Instruction, Jon Mandrell, recommends that all students take time to meet with an SVCC academic advisor or counselor, “We have assessments available to help students understand their interests and talents. These will guide them in their choices of classes and possibly help choose a transfer institution too. It’s a good idea to develop an educational plan in the beginning and reassess it once a semester,” he explains.
Sauk’s general transfer associate degree program is a good option for students who want to explore their interests before committing to a major. It’s designed to provide a broad foundation in the humanities and social sciences, allowing you to choose from a menu of courses in fine arts, science, psychology and many others.
Smart transfer students know that not every class transfers to every institution. For example, graphic design classes may earn you credit if you go to art school but not if you transfer into a pre-med program. That’s why it’s important to work with an academic advisor or counselor to create a plan—and to adapt it if you change your mind.
What if I know exactly what I want?
What if you’ve always dreamed of being a Husky or a Redbird but your grades didn’t make the cut? What if your parents just can’t pay for the private liberal arts college you set your sights on? With Sauk’s help you can still get there. By raising your GPA and saving money, you can still earn your bachelor’s degree from your dream school —and probably discover that the community college in your backyard has some good things going for it too.
Academic Counselor Janet Matheney has spent many years advising students who planned to transfer to a state university in Illinois including the University of Illinois. “Sometimes they didn’t get into a university right out of high school and decided to improve their GPA at Sauk and try again,” she says. But more often students chose transfer to save a buck. “I’d say about 80 percent of transfer students I worked with knew they’d do well at a university but came to Sauk to save some money.”
Of course there are other colleges too. Sauk has several articulation agreements with four-year schools that make it easy for students to complete the equivalent of the first two years of study at Sauk and add higher-level courses at a transfer institution.