Washington state offers more baccalaureate options at community and technical colleges than any other state in the country. In fact, 29 of Washington’s 33 community and technical colleges are now offering Bachelor of Applied Science degree programs, which can be completed in as little as two years, that lead directly to local jobs.
This demand is fueled in large part by the growing number of nontraditional students, typically over age 25 and already in the workforce. Nearly 74% of American undergraduate students are nontraditional, compelled by the desire for career change or advancement.
Many of these students work full time and/or care for their family, making evening and online classes essential in order to earn a degree.
North Seattle College students typically meet two evenings per week for their BAS classes and the rest of the instruction is online. Some programs, including Early Childhood Education, International Business, and Accounting, have 100% online options.
Community college BAS leads to employment
“I was hired straight out of my last quarter,” says Carrie Lawshe, an electrician at The Boeing Company, and graduate of the North Seattle College Electronics Engineering Technology program.
Boeing, Intel, Micron, Century Link, the FAA, Honeywell, Ingersoll-Rand, Sound Air and Aerojet are just some of the regional companies partnering with local community colleges to hire electronic technicians upon completion of a two-year associate degree.
“There is tremendous demand for electronics technicians now, primarily due to retiring baby boomers,” says Tim Fiegenbaum, Electronics Faculty & Coordinator, North Seattle College, who has been sending graduating students out on interviews for an average of 20 to 30 job openings every month for the past three years. “One company recently requested 27 robotics technicians and another wanted a hundred broadband technicians. The demand is off the charts.”
That demand for skilled employees in the Puget Sound region is not limited to technology. The North Seattle College Property Management Program was launched in Fall 2018 in response to the need for trained property managers in the area, and has more than doubled in size from the first to second years. The first graduates enter the workforce in June 2020.
Networking is another big plus of many community college programs. For example, the North Seattle College Property Management Program is a member of the local chapter of the Washington Multi-Family Housing Association, Institute of Real Estate Management, and the Building and Owners Management Association.
“All of these organizations have consistently invited groups of our students to attend their membership meetings and networking events for free,” says Jesse Cooley, Director, BAS Programs, Workforce Instruction Division, North Seattle College.
High return on investment with BAS degree
The rising cost of higher education is a huge factor in the popularity of BAS programs. Over the last decade, the cost of attending a four-year higher education institution climbed 55% at public four-year schools and nearly as much at private colleges. A BAS degree at a community college costs about $21,500 for all four years of education and considerably less for a two-year technical degree.
For students like Lawshe, whose starting salary was $34 per hour, the investment of time and money in a two-year BAS degree is well worth it. “I’m learning as fast as I can because most of the staff is retiring within the next few years,” she says. “There are plenty of opportunities for on-the-job training and advancement.”
North Seattle College provides learning opportunities for a diverse group of more than 14,000 students each year. Strong academic preparation and advising services, small classes, an integrated studies program, e-learning options and partnerships with four-year schools contribute to student success.