College students in the Flathead Valley can soon be a student at the University of Montana without physically being there.
The Flathead Valley Community College has partnered with the University of Montana so students can earn a Bachelor of Arts degree in elementary education, and they can do it without ever leaving the Flathead.
It's just like transferring from a community college to a four-year university, but this time students don’t actually have to go anywhere -- the University of Montana is coming to them.
“Education is so important,” said FVCC student Jesse Diamond.
Diamond plans to transfer after this year. However, it’s welcome news to others who are staying at the college, that they can earn a Bachelor's degree.
“The more we invest in it, and the more that it’s available to everyone, job opportunities are more available,” Diamond said.
Last year, the college asked students what Bachelor's degrees they were interested in pursuing. Elementary education was at the top.
NBC Montana spoke to the president of the FVCC who said people really wanted the program.
"I’ve heard for a number of years from community members, questioning when are we going to have more partnerships on campus with the Montana University system,” said FVCC President Jane Karas.
Karas says the partnership is about meeting those needs
"We know that many people, because of family or work or other circumstances, can’t move to continue their education and get that four-year degree. So, partnering with the university system is really providing more opportunities at a very affordable cost,” Karas said.
"It’s really important. If I were here and I had limited options and I had kids, it'd definitely be something that I’d be interested in and it’s a really great opportunity for the Flathead,” Diamond said.
Students pursuing a degree in elementary education will be FVCC students for the first two years. Then, just like transferring to another university, those students will apply to the University of Montana. If accepted, they will be considered U of M students. They will pay the university's tuition fees and will take courses taught by U of M professors -- all without leaving the FVCC campus.
Diamond feels this opportunity is not only great for students but great for the college's image.
"I think it just legitimizes community college. Community college has this stigma of being your last option, but I think that really it’s showing that it’s a resource for the community," said Diamond.
The deadline to apply for the program is on August 7 at 5 p.m. There are academic advisors available to help with the application process.