Hundreds of students every year are admitted to Tennessee Tech University’s 2+2 education program at community colleges across the state. Almost all of them go on to get their bachelor’s degree together.
Improving retention rates has recently become a priority of Tennessee Board of Regents institutions, but the 2+2 program in TTU’s College of Education has been focusing on keeping students enrolled and in good standing since its inception nearly a decade ago.
“The retention rate for transfer students in the College of Education is above 90 percent,” said Beth Mannle, assistant dean of the college. “They have goals, they know what they want and they stay. We’ve made it work and it’s been very successful.”
Across the university, TTU’s retention rate is about 72 percent, one of the highest of all the TBR institutions.
The 2+2 program allows students at eight community college campuses across the state to transfer as juniors to TTU’s multidisciplinary/elementary K-6 education program to finish their four-year degree without ever having to leave their hometown campus. TTU has classrooms at each of the campuses with the same materials, technology and faculty as the Cookeville campus.
The program has strict admissions requirements; students must have at least a 2.5 GPA, as well as go through a background check and have several letters of recommendation. Once admitted, students spend half of each semester working in public school classrooms.
They also spend a lot of time together as a class.
“They help each other and they know more about each other than they probably want to know,” Mannle said. “Some of these rooms are small and if you put 25 people in them for four or five hours a day, they become very close to each other, very supportive.”
Research has shown that college students often drop out or transfer because they do not feel committed or engaged to their program or university. In the 2+2 education program, that is rarely the case.
They also find jobs fairly easily in their hometown school districts and are popular with their employers, Mannle said.
“The feedback that we get from the school principals and the school administrators is that they are very well prepared,” she said. “They like hiring Tech graduates.”
Eight college campuses, including Pellissippi State Community College’s Hardin Valley campus; Roane State Community College’s Crossville, Harriman, Oak Ridge and Scott County campuses; Motlow State Community College’s McMinnville and Moore County campus; and Chattanooga State Community College, participate in the program.
The program has been so successful that TTU recently announced a similar 2+2 program between TTU and Chattanooga State for a bachelor of science in industrial technology.