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One of the most affordable bachelor’s degrees arrives at RCBC

RCBC student with microscope

By Paul Drayton
Rowan College at Burlington County

Something occurred this week at Rowan College at Burlington County (RCBC) that has never happened before in the history of the college. It’s something that has never happened before at any community college in New Jersey or our region.

RCBC students began enrolling in community college courses that will count as their junior year toward a bachelor’s degree from a major research university while paying community college tuition (RCBC’s is the most affordable in New Jersey) and receiving the same instruction from professors who hold advanced degrees as students attending the university.

As early enrollment began Monday for returning RCBC students, an exciting new opportunity begins as we roll out our “3+1” paths for biology, law and justice, and liberal studies. In the fall, we will begin nursing, psychology, general studies, and computing and informatics.

New and transfer students (including those who completed an associate degree at another community college) can begin enrolling in junior year courses on Monday, Nov. 7. There is no registration fee if students enroll before Nov. 29. Learn more at rcbc.edu/3plus1.

Once students complete their associate degree, they can stay with us an additional year before completing their senior year with Rowan University, which offers a 15 percent discount for courses taken on our Mount Laurel campus or online. Our program is one of Money Magazine’s top tuition discounts in the nation as it can save you $75,000 compared with most universities while earning degrees from RCBC and Rowan University, which is ranked among the top 100 public schools in the nation.

Of course, students interested in other paths can still access dozens of other colleges with whom we maintain transfer agreements through the RCBC Transfer Office.

Although “3+1” was recently endorsed by a nonpartisan state commission studying ways to make college more affordable, our program has faced some resistance from other higher education institutions that do not want to treat it as a viable transfer path for students seeking a high-quality affordable bachelor’s degree.

RCBC cares about providing affordable options while institutions resisting “3+1” are clearly motivated by their own bottom line and preserving a system of higher education that has grown too expensive.

More jobs require a bachelor’s degree than ever before, yet college is too expensive and students graduate with a debt burden of about $30,000. This affects students’ quality-of-life for a long time. That debt affects many things such as delaying one’s ability to purchase a house and even pursue a relationship. With this context, a new path to a degree that will cost a total of $25,000 for all four years is something to celebrate and welcome for anyone truly concerned with the future of education in our country. And, the tuition figure I cited comes before any financial aid or scholarship assistance.

I am so proud that our students will be the first in our region to have this opportunity and am already working to expand our offerings to majors that are already some of the college’s most popular and ranked among the highest-paying careers because they are in-demand and growing. In the near future, I plan to announce the availability of more “3+1” paths including business administration, mechanical engineering technology with a focus on advanced manufacturing, education and computer science.

A lot of work between RCBC and Rowan University has occurred to make “3+1” a reality, including collaboration between senior leadership, administrators and most importantly, faculty to ensure that a student taking a “3+1” path will be equally prepared as one attending Rowan University in Glassboro.

The future of affordable higher education officially arrived in southern New Jersey. “3+1” is so much more than four. It offers a real solution to the high costs of college by providing students more savings, more high-quality education from two outstanding institutions and more convenience with the most seamless transfer to a university possible.