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ASU offers several pathways to a bachelor's degree that save money

ASU offers several ways to earn a degree with reduced tuition costs.
October 24, 2017

Robust community-college transfer program is one way to reduce tuition bill

As Arizona State University tackles the challenge of getting as many people as possible to complete a bachelor’s degrees, it also offers several ways for Arizonans to do it at a reduced tuition rate.

Degree completion is a critical need in Arizona, where 28 percent of adults age 25 and older hold a bachelor’s degree, compared with the nationwide rate of 30 percent, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. ASU is working with the state in support of Achieve60AZ, an alliance of 60 community and business groups to make Arizona more competitive by supporting  a goal of achieving 60 percent of adults, ages 25–64, with a professional certificate or college degree by 2030.

By 2020, 68 percent of all jobs in Arizona will require some form of postsecondary education, such as a certificate, two-year, bachelor’s or graduate degree, according to estimates by the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce. In addition, the Institute of Medicine has recommended that 80 percent of all registered nurses have a bachelor’s degree by 2020.

There are several ways to save money on tuition costs at ASU. The most popular way to pay a reduced rate is by transferring from a community college. ASU, which had about 16,000 transfer students in 2016, saw transfer enrollment more than double in a decade, increasing 124 percent from 2007–08 to 2016–17.

The university has worked closely with community colleges to make transfer as simple as possible, and ASU is still improving the process.

“It should not be rocket science to know what courses you should be taking at your community college that have relevance to the degree here,” said Maria Hesse, vice provost for academic partnerships at ASU.

Typically, students will attend community college for one or two years and pay a much lower tuition rate — $86 per credit hour at the 10 Maricopa Community Colleges — and then transfer those credits to ASU and complete the credits needed for a bachelor’s degree.

A few years ago, ASU set up a transfer agreement with the Maricopa colleges — called the Maricopa-ASU Pathways Program, or MAPP — that specifies exactly which courses are needed for each majorStudents who are unsure of a major can sign up for an “exploratory” track, such as health and life sciences or humanities, fine arts and design. They then take a career-exploration class. and the sequence, so that students can avoid wasting time and money on classes that don’t apply to a degree. Students who meet the requirements are guaranteed admission and get help from ASU advisers while they’re still in community college.

“If you want to maximize the time and the effort and money you’re spending at community college, we’ll show you exactly what to do. This takes all the guesswork out of it,” Hesse said.

ASU also has transfer pathways with other Arizona community colleges, including tribal colleges, as well as institutions in California and other states.

New this year is the ability for students to sign up for a transfer pathway onlineOnline sign-up is not yet available for students in the Maricopa colleges. rather than making an appointment with their advisers.

And students also will now get four years to complete the community-college portion of their studies instead of the three that was previously required. The extra year will allow high school students who take dual-enrollment courses to sign up for a transfer agreement, as well as students who need time to complete remedial classes.

“We wanted the time frame to be long enough so that the first time a student says, ‘I’m interested in going to the university,’ we try to capture their information. We didn’t want the time frame to be a problem,” Hesse said.

ASU has expanded the opportunity for a bachelor’s degree to community college students who earn a vocational degree, such as an associate’s of applied science, in fields such as welding and respiratory therapy, she said. Previously, there was no way for those students to transfer their vocational credits to ASU and then earn a bachelor’s.

“The problem is that at a certain point in many of these people’s careers, they want to become a supervisor, or move up, but they can’t get a bachelor’s degree. It would be like starting from scratch,” she said.

But a few years ago, ASU developed several bachelor’s of applied science degree programs that allows those people to transfer.

“So if I got an AAS in respiratory therapy at Gateway Community College, I can now get a BAS in health sciences and transfer those 60 credits,” Hesse said. People who hold an associate’s degree in aviation mechanics from Chandler-Gilbert Community College can later earn a bachelor’s in aviation from the Polytechnic School at ASU.

Dimi Wassef

Dimi Wassef transferrred to ASU after earning an associate's degree from Estrella Mountain Community College.

"After I high school, I wasn’t sure what the next four years were going to look like for me, and I was unsure what I wanted to do," said Wassef, who started out majoring in biology and then switched to English literature, where the classes "felt like they were meant for me."

The transition required some adjustment at first, but she connected with a professor, studied abroad in London and found a lot of networking opportunities. A senior, Wassef serves as an ASU "transfer ambassador," answering a lot of questionsQuestions about parking and class sizes top the list, she said, along with queries about what it's really like to attend ASU. "As students, we can offer that perspective to them," she said. from prospective transfer students.

"In our culture, there's this idea that right after high school you have to go to a university and move away, but the community colleges offer a good transition and prepares you. It's a more approachable setting than throwing yourself into a very complicated university setting, where you don't use all the resources if you don't know about them," she said.

'You're taking the same classes at much lower cost. There's no better way to go in my opinion."

There are several other ways that students can earn a four-year degree from ASU for less tuition than a traditional program. Here are some examples (tuition amounts are for the fall 2017 semester and do not include fees or housing costs):

Concurrent enrollment programs

ASU partners with the Maricopa Community Colleges in a program to accelerate the path to a bachelor’s of science in nursing. Students begin at a community college, and then start taking ASU Online classes at the same time. By the time they earn their associate’s degree, they have only one more semester at ASU before they earn a BSN. Students in the program pay $435 per credit hour for their ASU Online courses, compared with $702 per credit hour for students in the face-to-face nursing program.

Options by location

Some programs in locations other than Tempe offer reduced tuition. For example, freshmen and sophomores in the Polytechnic School in Mesa and the New College of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences on the West campus receive a 10 percent discount on tuition.

The Colleges at Lake Havasu charge lower tuition as well. The price of a year at Lake Havasu is $6,376 before gift aid and need- and merit-based scholarships.

Stay-in-place in rural Arizona

ASU partners with three institutions in rural areas to offer a handful of bachelor’s degrees on the community college campus with reduced tuition — $2,953 for a full-time course load this semester. For example, students at Eastern Arizona College in Thatcher can earn an ASU degree on their campus in organizational leadership, applied leadership, nursing or secondary education. ASU also partners with Arizona Western College in Yuma to offer degrees in secondary education and criminology and criminal justice, and with Central Arizona College in Coolidge in organizational leadership and applied leadership. Leaders from Arizona Western College will visit ASU on Friday to learn more about the university’s college and programs. The university plans to expand this program to other rural Arizona locations.

ASU decides which degrees to offer in these areas after working with the local communities to determine the needs of the biggest employers and which programs the community colleges can prepare students for.

Global Freshmen Academy

Another way to earn credits at a reduced tuition rate is through the Global Freshman Academy online program. Students can choose among 14 freshmen-level courses, such as pre-calculus, English 101 and Introduction to Solar System Astronomy, tuition free, paying a $49 fee to verify their identification. If they pass a course, they can then choose to pay for ASU credit at the rate of $200 per credit hour.

Fast-track degrees

For students who are looking to finish quickly, there are 18 degree options, including health sciences and business communications, that can be completed in two and a half or three years. These options don't have reduced tuition but do lessen the time required to pay for housing for students that choose to live on campus. Find details here.

For more on ASU tuition, click here.

Mary Beth Faller

reporter , ASU Now


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Get ready for game day with 3 fascinating sporting events from around the globe

October 24, 2017

In honor of this week's Homecoming, ASU anthropologists share games from other cultures they’ve seen while out in the field

Sports are embedded in college tradition, and no other time reminds us of this quite like Homecoming. But what do sports look like in other cultures? Below, anthropologists from Arizona State University's School of Human Evolution and Social Change reveal the amazing and unexpected sporting events they’ve seen while doing research all over the world.


1. The Mien sports and culture festival

The Mien, an ethnic minority group of highland farmers in Thailand, gather from across the countryside once a year for their sports and culture festival. It’s a time to celebrate and take pride in their traditions.

“The festivals that I have attended seem geared to show off minority culture and identity as fun, presentable and a good fit for national life,” said Professor Hjorleifur Jonsson, who studies Mien history and culture.

Sepak takraw, played throughout Southeast Asia, is a featured game that looks as dramatic as it sounds. It’s similar to volleyball, but because the players can’t use their arms, they launch the ball over the net with lightning-fast high kicks and backflips.

In addition to cross-cultural sports, Mien also have contests specific to their own culture, such as singing tournaments. This is no simple karaoke setup. Their language has a special — and very challenging — dialect used only for songs, so singing tests not only vocals but also memory, pronunciation and accuracy.

“One woman was legendary for her singing skill,” Jonsson said. “When she was about 19 years old, these three young men challenged her to an evening song duel. As I heard of it — many decades later — she sang them all under the table by morning.”


2. The Tsimané soccer tournament

photo of Tsimane soccer players
Photo by Ben Trumble

Soccer is often called “the world’s game” because it’s played everywhere — even in remote places like the Bolivian Amazon. There, the indigenous Tsimané people have made the sport an important part of their lives. After a day of farming, hunting and fishing, men gather before sunset to play soccer.

ASU Assistant Professor Ben Trumble helped put together a huge soccer tournament so he could research how male testosterone changes during competition. (His study found that, while Tsimané men have lower average testosterone levels than men from the U.S., they get the same testosterone spike after playing a sport.)

The two-day tournament was unique in that it brought together remote communities that normally wouldn’t get to play against each other. Trumble describes it as a lively social event, complete with crowds of family and spectators as well as lots of food — specifically, two pigs and a cow that he had to go pick out himself.

Although most players didn’t have shoes and the goals were made of tree branches, Trumble said the differences stopped there, with the rules and overall feel of the game like any other.

“It was basically the same pick-up soccer game you would find in any Tempe park on a cool Saturday afternoon,” Trumble said.


3. The Fourth of July games in Alaska 

Each village in northern Alaska hosts a Fourth of July festival that celebrates their region’s indigenous cultures. Athletes compete in a variety of sports — many borrowed from the World Eskimo-Indian Olympics — that test their fitness to survive in the harsh North.

Everyone in town is there to play or cheer others on, explained Assistant Professor Shauna BurnSilver. And after the games are done for the day, there’s a big meal, music and dancing. BurnSilver went to a festival herself while studying cooperation and food-sharing patterns in an Athabascan Gwich’in community in Venetie, Alaska.

One of the most popular sports is the one-foot high kick, where contestants use one foot to jump, kick at a little ball hanging in the air, and then land balanced, all without the other foot touching the ground. According to the WEIO website, the high kick originated as a way for hunters to signal their villages to help them bring home large game.

The most unexpected contest BurnSilver saw had competitors putting their bodies on the line — literally. Known as the mosquito hunt, kids had five minutes to catch as many of the bugs as they could.

“Techniques varied, but my favorite was to go stand under the trees, push up your sleeves and then catch as many as landed on you. The winner had 38!”


photo of fireworks during ASU football game

While these sporting events may not all focus on the same kinds of skills that will be on display at this week’s ASU Homecoming game, they all share key traits that make up the core of what everyone loves about game day: community spirit, traditions, good food and the thrill of a shared experience.

Let’s kick that off in our corner of the world by cheering, “Go Sun Devils!”

Mikala Kass

communications assistant , School of Human Evolution and Social Change