In this tech-driven world, engineers are in high demand. They are the brains behind the latest gadgets, the massive construction projects, the most sophisticated software, and the public utilities that we depend on every day. Studies showed that the field suffered least compared to other occupations when the economy turned sour during the latter part of the last decade. Simply put, engineers are too vital to let go. They enjoy generous compensation packages doing a fulfilling job that drives innovation. It is quite understandable then that a lot of incoming college freshmen are thinking of taking up an engineering degree.
It is an easy decision for those who truly have a passion for it and can afford the tuition fees. For most, however, the issue can be much more complicated. Most of the problem lies in the financial aspect rather than the ability. Talented but poor students cannot just waltz into a university and take up a spot. The cost of education can be downright prohibitive. Fortunately, people have been able to find workarounds for this and have gone on to build great careers. One of them is to start off studies in a community college and seek a transfer later on to a more traditional university.
Spend the First Two Years at a Community College
Community colleges provide students who come from low income families a way to get higher education and a better chance at life. The fees are very low in comparison with private universities or even state-funded universities, typically a few thousand dollars versus tens of thousands. They have an assortment of two-year courses that result in an associate degree. They do not offer engineering degrees as these take four years at the minimum. However, students can use the classes at the local community college to build up their course portfolio. Take subjects that are relevant to engineering such as advanced math and science.
This two-year period may also be used by the student to work for a bit. There are plenty of part-time jobs that are available for students and some of them pay a decent amount of money. The income from these may be saved for use to make the transition to a university much easier. This is especially important if the educational institution is located outside of the home state because fees may nearly double. Expenses such as board and lodging, food, clothing, utilities, books and miscellaneous items should also be considered.
Transfer to a Traditional University and Complete the Degree
Consult with the student services office about the intended transfer. They should be able to give advice on how to go about it the right way. They have probably encountered other students who tried to do the same in the past so they will know what works and what doesn't. Perhaps there are subjects that are more applicable to the chosen field than the rest. Maybe certain universities are more accommodating towards transferees than others. The community college may even have a transfer agreement already set up with partner universities to make accreditation and similar things easier for the students.
Try to Find Student Aid
Expenses are minimal at the community college. Succeeding years at the university will be a different story. The remaining subjects required to achieve the full engineering degree will call for a substantial sum. Aside from depending on savings, students should also try to apply for financial aid. Do some research on scholarships and grants with suitable eligibility requirements. Simply submit applications to as many grant-giving bodies as possible. Anyone of them could be the ticket to an engineering degree.
Ryan Ayers is a writer who creates informative articles in relation to education. In this article, he offers tips to students looking into engineering degrees and aims to encourage further study OU Online Masters Degree in Electrical Engineering.