Most international students are interested in 4-year university and bachelor’s degree programs. The idea of an Associate’s Degree or the benefits of 2-year pathway programs are not very well understood or appreciated among many international students.
Pathway programs describe scenarios where students attend a community or technical college for one or two years then transfer to a partner university for their final two or three years. Students still earn a Bachelor’s degree in 4 years, just like they had enrolled in the university from the beginning, but the student enjoys several benefits, including:
- Saving money on tuition – NWTC is only a fraction of the cost of universities, including partnering institutions in the University of Wisconsin system. International students attending University of Wisconsin schools can expect to pay over $15,000 per year, while students interested in private universities will expect to pay over $20,000 per year. This means that spending two years at NWTC will help students save enough money to pay for their entire third year!
- Smaller class sizes and better student support services – Students attending first-year courses at universities are often shocked to encounter classrooms with 100, 300, or more students per class! In these situations, students do not get the support and attention from their professors that they need to be successful. By comparison, NWTC classes average fewer than 30 students per course. In addition, NWTC has developed academic support programs which help all struggling students find the help they need to succeed.
- Building your academic resume – Not all students come from countries where the education system is similar to the United States. For those international students who have their sight set on entering U.S. universities, but lack the academic requirements, attending NWTC gives those students the opportunity to develop an academic resume that will get them into their desired university.
- Understanding American university culture – International students face considerable challenges because they not only have to adjust to new college and university academic expectations, but they are required to adjust to a new culture as well. The culture shock students feel during their first few months at college or university is real and substantial. By attending a community or technical college, international students will be able to face the adjustment period from culture shock with more personal attention and support.
- Developing work skills early – Many Bachelor’s degree programs are focused on academic theory. Graduates finish university studies without ever developing any hands-on skills that employers will demand. Technical colleges are designed to give Associate degree earning students develop the work skills they need to go directly into the workplace. NWTC associate degree programs boast 100% full-time employment in their field for graduates in over 20 programs. Savvy students seeking Bachelor’s degrees by first attending NWTC, will develop work skills in technical programs, and then finish their Bachelor’s degree in the same four-year timeframe as students who go directly to universities.
- Participating in additional internship opportunities – Many NWTC programs offer internship opportunities for program participants and graduates. International students are permitted to participate in Optional Practical Training (OPT) and Curricular Practical Training (CPT) at each level of study with the F-1 student visa. Students may wish to get up-to a year of additional work experience before transferring to a four-year university after earning their associate degree at NWTC. Acquiring job skills and building a professional resume are important benefits of internship, OPT, and CPT opportunities.