Higher Ed. Hidden Gem: Bellevue Community College

Let’s face it. The recession may have put your dream school out of reach.

With financial aid evaporating and many folks struggling to afford tuition, room and board (and late night beer and pizza cravings), it’s more important than ever that prospective college students apply to “financial safety” schools, in addition to pricier institutions that may not be able to meet students’ budgetary needs.

Remember: Less expensive doesn’t mean less worthy. We’re making it our mission to bring you a “gem” of a school each week on MainStreet to help you make the most of your investment in yourself.

This week:  Bellevue Community College
Bellevue, Washington

The Goods: Community colleges, Bellevue Community College in particular, are worth a close look. Nestled on 11 wooded acres in the heart of the Pacific Northwest and just 20 minutes outside Seattle, BCC offers exceptional resources (including TV and radio stations and a planetarium), a high rate of job placement and a diverse student body—all for a fraction of the price of the average four-year college. Plus, the dude who played Jesus in Passion of the Christ (James Caviezel) went here. ’Nuf said.

What Makes the School Special: Microsoft (Stock Quote: MSFT) is only five miles away from campus and the software giant has a tight-knit relationship with faculty and students. In fact, BCC is the first community college chosen to be a “Microsoft IT Showcase School.” The company recognizes BCC as a leader in information technology education.

“Having Microsoft here has helped us in a number of ways,” says Bob Adams, the school’s public information director. The company helps develop curriculum, co-sponsors career seminars and provides guest speakers.  The company also offers several internships and job opportunities.

“It’s a huge step up for students,” says Adams.

Applications are up 7% year-over-year, and up 19% within professional/technical (job skills) programs, says Adams. “At community colleges, enrollments go up when the economy goes bad because people are looking for new or additional training to secure their spot in the job market. This time is no exception.”

Social Lifestyle: BCC is a commuter campus named one of the “Nation’s Leading Colleges and Universities Committed to Diversity” by Minority Access, Inc. It has more than 800 international students. Also, there are 10 sports teams and dozens of clubs and organizations affiliated with the school.

Annual Tuition Costs:
2008-09 tuition:

  • State resident:     $82.80/credit
  • Non-resident:      $254.50/credit

Full-time students take a minimum 12 credits per quarter. That’s $1,200 per quarter for state students and about $3,000 per quarter for out-of-state students.

BCC has an open enrollment policy which means if you apply, you’re in. The only exceptions are for a few select programs, such as nursing and radiation technology, which are competitive.

Job Placement Stats:

74% of professional/technical students are hired within one month of graduation; 92% within six months.

Total Student Body:
34,452. BCC is the third largest institution of higher learning in Washington state.

Degrees Offered:

  • Bachelor of Applied Sciences in Radiation & Imaging Sciences
  • Associate in Arts & Sciences
  • Associate in Business
  • Associate in Elementary Education
  • Associate in Math Education
  • Associate in Science
  • Associate in Applied Science
  • Professional/Technical Degree available in 90 topics

Most Popular Degree:
Associate in Arts & Sciences (transfer degree)

Student:Teacher Ratio:

Percent Receiving Financial Aid:

Average Amount of Financial Aid Rewarded to Students Annually:

Cost of Living (Estimate):
$3,050 per quarter (estimated room and board plus local transportation)

Percent Out-of-State:

Notable Alumni:
Jim Caviezel, actor
Bill Wixey, Emmy-winning news anchor (KCPQ 13 Fox News)
Deb Caletti, award-winning children’s author
Mike Adair, former Expedia.com chief information officer
Other recent graduates have continued studies at Oxford, Stanford, Harvard, Yale, Columbia, University of Chicago, Howard University, Juilliard, University of Washington and other top schools.

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