The most economical route to begin the career

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  • #84958 Reply

      My son is thinking of going to community college & then transfer to state university to get his engineering degree.

      I understand that’s the most economical route to begin his career but also heard it’s not a recommended way as engineering majors are very competitive to get in. Any thoughts from real life experience will be appreciated as I have no engineering background.

      Sometimes what I think is financially the best option at that moment may not be good decision in the long run.

      #84959 Reply

        I went to community college for Mechanical Engineering Technology A.S. and then transfered to Penn State University for my bachelor’s degree. My parents paid for two years at CC, and then I got my employer to pay for my BS. I graduated debt free in 2018, but it took me 2 years longer than my high school peers to finish the degree because I moved, had a full time job, and took 2 semesters longer to finish.

        It was the best option for me, but there are some key points I would make:

        1. Make sure the program is ABET accredited. Even better if it has partner schools for direct transfer credits. Laying out the plan of where you are transferring to can help eliminate extra classes. Talk to advisors sooner rather than later. I had to retake Calc 1 because I was missing 1 chapter in the class I took at CC.
        2. I started out going for mechanical engineering and switched to mechanical engineering technology because I wanted skills I could use immediately (I got my first job as a CNC Programmer during my 2nd semester of CC in 2013). ME is more Calculus. MET has more hands on. Depending on the career, one can be better than the other. I started out in manufacturing and my skills were quickly more important than my degree.
        3. CC didn’t offer internships. By the time I got to PSU, I was working full time as an engineer and didn’t need internships but you need to get experience during your schooling to be desirable for hiring.
        4. Check out the teachers at both schools. I had really great teachers at both schools, and I had some duds too. Overall, I think CC provided a better value education.
        #84960 Reply

          Wife and I both did the CC and then state school route 2+2. Originally I started in architecture and fell into becoming a land surveyor. Paid the very little student loans we incurred off within the first 6 months out of school and have been debt free ever since.

          Honestly your kid might find out in year 3 that engineering isn’t the thing and decide or find something better for him.

          Fast forward 6-7 years, we are still debt free and currently building our dream lake house and have jobs we love. All this to say the school on the piece(s) of paper might not matter as much you think!

          Don’t miss: What other well paying career options that have a bachelors as the final degree needed to work, and are out there in that field that aren’t that specific degree?

          #84961 Reply

            Some colleges offer 2 and 2 programs, a guranteed entrance to another institutions eng. Program.

            Ex: UM flint and UM Anne Arbor.

            You get the more prestigious degree, with about half cost for 2 years

            As far as work goes, actual internships and experience matter most. I know plenty of people hired from shop mechanics/techs to engineer, not many that were just TAs

            #84962 Reply

              My brother did this. The advanced planning required is to make sure the school you are transefing to will not only accept the credits (look at the transfer guides) but also chose a college where the program isn’t competitive to get into.

              My brother (engineering and I nursing) both didn’t have this problem but we selected schools that have the philosophy of expanding programs (versus makings them competitive). Like the person mentioned above the CC transfer counselors would be the best to talk to.

              #84963 Reply

                Not sure who said that, but from my experience, the education from community college to state college to IV college is extremely marginal.

                The only times I’ve seen it make an impact is when applying to certain companies. Some big companies will only come to big colleges to recruit talent, or some schools have strong alumni bases that can give you an edge.

                Explore these too: For long-term career benefits (eventually more $$$) – Would you stay or would you go?

                #84964 Reply

                  Who’d you hear this from? If it’s just gossip or my brother’s friends cousin said it, I’d ignore. CC to state college is a great pathway and saves tons of money.

                  #84965 Reply

                    I did just this.

                    I highly recommend it. All my basic courses (calculus I, II, III, & differential equations, Chemistry, physics, English, electives, etc) were all taken at the community college taught by PhD professors that sole job was to teach, not TAs.

                    I felt I had a much more solid basis when I was taking my engineering courses at the University. I graduated with very little in students loans.

                    #84966 Reply
                    KC Fisher

                      My sister did this, 2 years at community college then 5 semesters at Virginia Tech (where she also had paid internships through her summers and her last couple semesters). She could have graduated in 4 semesters but her guidance counselor at VT got it wrong when a certain class was held (and it was a 2 part class) so she just did a paid internship one semester and no classes.

                      Upon graduation with her mechanical engineering degree, she had already accepted a position with Lockheed Martin and 6 months later purchased a 5 bedroom single family home 15mins from work where she rents out 2 rooms that nearly completely cover her mortgage.. it worked out very well for her!

                      I do know that the Northern Virginia community college did have like an engineering track associates which likely made it easier to get into Virginia Techs engineering program.

                      Don’t forget to take a look at: I’m looking for advice on deciding between two job offers

                      #84967 Reply

                        Many CCs have transfer agreements in place for larger state schools that are seamless. I’ve hired dozens and dozens of engineers for Fortune 500 companies…I’ve never once paid attention to where they went to school…ever.

                        Working the summers in a firm or an engineering adjacent industry will do a lot more to advance his career than taking freshman lit at a 4 year state school.

                        #84968 Reply

                          This is what I did, and many of my friends. I started my college career while in high school, but didn’t know exactly what I wanted or where I was going. I had almost 60 credits by the time I graduated high school.

                          I ended up going to another community college in Minnesota, but knew I wanted to transfer for Biomedical and Mechanical Engineering at Michigan Tech, so I did a bit more planning than I had done previously.

                          I had no issues being accepted, and found myself performing at a much higher level than those who went there right out of high school. Not only did I save money, but I was very prepared for how hard things were supposed to be. I could not recommend this enough.

                          #84969 Reply

                            This was the route that I chose to for getting my engineering degree (EE). There are perks to start this way. Usually, there are scholarships available for students at the CC that will follow/transfer to the partner university.

                            The ratio to professor is usually smaller, more access to professors vs. TA (not knocking TA, as I was one for) when help is needed. The university where graduated from would actually recommend students who were struggling to start at the cc to get a firm foundation and then come back if possible.

                            I would just make sure that the advisor at the cc knows what their doing, as this is where things could go wrong..taking extra classes that don’t transfer or taking the wrong class altogether.

                            #84970 Reply

                              I’m all for saving money on college tuition, but one thing that’s seldom mentioned about transferring to a 4-year school after 2 years of CC is the difficulty of breaking into established social circles.

                              It’s harder to find compatible roommates, study partners and friends in general. This can greatly impact a student’s quality of life and mental health.

                              I understand that every person and situation is different, but a sometimes what looks best on a spreadsheet isn’t the best decision overall.

                              #84971 Reply

                                Just make sure the 4-year college has a reciprocal agreement with the community college to accept all the classes. And then his 2-year degree will transfer right over for higher education.

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