At age 17, Kyle Omphroy didn’t know what he wanted to be when he grew up.
“Senior year came around and my mom started asking where I wanted to go to school,” remembers Omphroy, a Penfield, N.Y. native.
Omphroy thought about joining the U.S. Marine Corp., but it was 2002 and the United States had just declared war on Afghanistan. Instead, he enrolled at nearby 2 year school, Monroe Community College (www.monroecc.edu), studying liberal arts with a concentration in advertising.
“I took three years of Adobe Photoshop in high school,” says Omphroy, 27. “I made witty slogans for ads and it interested me, so MCC was a easy way to try it out as a career.”
Omphroy is one of many students who choose to begin their college education at a two-year school. While their reasons vary, it’s largely due to financial savings and academic opportunities.
While each program may vary from college to college, generally a 2+2 program is when a community college offers students the opportunity to complete two years of general education requirements. The community college would then offer transfer opportunities to four-year schools in the area or state, so students could complete a four-year degree. Some colleges may have different names for the program, so talk to your school counselors for the various options available to you locally.
Why choose a 2+2 program?
When Anthony Miller, 34, applied to colleges during high school, he was accepted to Ithaca College (www.ithaca.edu), St. Lawrence University (www.stlawu.edu) and Monroe Community College. Like Omphroy, he was undecided about his career path, but overall, he chose MCC for economic reasons.
“Liberal arts gave me a platform to dabble in different curriculums,” says Miller. “And as a college freshman living at home, I learned to be mature and responsible with money. I learned the value of a dollar.”
Most community colleges offer classes for a fraction of the price students would pay at a four-year college. Miller, who worked summers to pay off each fall semester, estimates that he saved $75,000 in loans, compared to his peers who spent four years at a private institution. For him, saving money was the greatest benefit of attending community college.
For Omphroy, the benefits of attending community college extended beyond pricing.
“Classes weren’t a piece of cake or anything, but (MCC) felt more familiar. I didn’t have to adjust to a new living environment and a new school,” he says. “After I knew what a college workload was like, I could move wherever and do whatever I needed to do.”
He also had the opportunity to take the Disney College program (www.dcp.disneycareers.com), which counted as an internship and still grabs the attention of resume-browsing employers to this day.
2+2 dual admission degree programs
While Omphroy and Miller customized their 2+2 year school programs to fit their interests, many community colleges and universities have partnered to offer dual admission for students wishing to split their studies.
This means one application and one application fee, often to the less expensive community college. Classes are also guaranteed to transfer and housing is often reserved at the four-year school.
Requirements for many 2+2 programs include high school averages and coursework, satisfactory GPA standing once in the program and frequent advisement sessions. Students participating in a 2+2 program should be in contact with transfer counselors at both the two-year and four-year schools. Issues like financial aid, transfer credits and on-campus housing can flow smoothly with open, persistent communication.
Drawbacks to a 2+2 program
After finishing his liberal arts degree at MCC in 1998, Miller transferred to the State University of New York College at Potsdam (www.potsdam.edu) for political science, where he found himself “split between two schools. I didn’t grow up with a class for four years and experience that journey.”
Omphroy, who transferred to Colombia College in Chicago (www.colum.edu), and now works as an assistant multimedia editor for Gannett Co. Inc., added that social media can fill those gaps.
“If I could have spent the whole four years with the people at Columbia, that would have been awesome,” he says. “But with Facebook, Twitter and e-mail, that’s not really a big deal.”
Other dual program options
In addition to community college agreements with four-year schools, there are online options for non-traditional students. This can be a viable choice for home-schooled students looking for a jump on college admission, stay-at-home moms or working adults returning to school.
For more about 2 + 2 programs, ask your high school guidance counselor or call the nearest community
Leah Stacy, a graduate of Roberts Wesleyan College (www.roberts.edu), is a freelance writer, photographer and arts publicist. By night, she moonlights at local theatres as an actor, director and instructor.