The traditional four-year college experience is not for everyone. While some students thrive in four-year colleges, some students may need extra time to grow and develop into critical thinkers. Also known as Junior College, a Community College is an affordable public institution, funded by local tax dollars and support. The highest degree available at a community college is an associate degree, which typically takes full-time students about two years to earn.
Community colleges serve a healthy mix of students at various stages of life, each with different educational aspirations. If you’re considering attending a community college, the following reasons may help guide your final decision.
Most community colleges typically have an “open door” admission policy – anyone can register for the school if they have a high school diploma or GED. Colleges may ask for ACT/SAT, but admission officers will not deny students entry.
It’s common for many intelligent thinkers to not yet reach their full potential in high school. Earning exemplary grades in high school may prove challenging for an assortment of reasons, such as learning differences, environment, and emotional factors. Some students, for instance, have inadequate internet access, making it hard to study from home. Regardless of the reason for high school shortcomings, enrolling in a local community college can help students to ease into the world of higher education and learn at their own pace.
Students essentially enter community college with a clean slate, so test scores and high school GPAs no longer matter. Rather than feeling bogged down by their past short comings, students can focus on strengthening skills and knowledge before transferring to more competitive four-year colleges.
Community colleges cost significantly less, especially for nearby residents than a state or private college. According to College Board, the average costs of tuition were:
Meanwhile, the average cost for attending a community college proved significantly lower closer to ~$4,500. In essence, opting to enroll in a community college becomes a cost-effective way to complete your associate degree. The money you save living at home can also help pay for tuition if you decided to transfer and pursue your bachelor’s degree at a later date.
Many students must work to help support their families, leaving precious little time for studying. Luckily, flexibility is the hallmark benefit of attending community college. Community colleges typically offer evening, weekends, and remote options to help these students work their academics around the rest of their activities. Moreover, students can opt to attend community college as part-time students, allowing them to complete their degrees at a comfortable pace.
Many high school students enter college with unclear educational or degree goals. Some may have a general idea about the careers they may want to pursue after college, but they’re not always 100% sure. Instead of spending tens of thousands of dollars at a competitive university, students should consider attending a community college until they finalize the desired career path.
Unlike universities, which tend to focus only on academic degrees, community colleges allow you to get career-specific certificates in addition to an academic degree. So, if you want to enter a healthcare profession like nursing, physical therapy, or occupational therapy, then community college is a viable option to consider. The cost of classes is considerably more affordable; moreover, these classes can teach useful skills or introduce students to new hobbies like drawing, painting, and coding, even if they don’t transfer over to a four-year college.
Best of all, students can often transfer community college credits and use them toward general education requirements for bachelor’s degrees at 4-year universities, thereby saving time and money.
Whether community college is a good idea for you depends on your plans and how you want to approach your education. Some people don’t want to leave their high school friends, family, or job immediately after graduating. Still, enrolling in a community college doesn’t have to be a student’s final choice.
Students will ultimately have a more rewarding experience at a community college if they research the program in advance. Try devoting an evening or two to discover the strongest programs offered, the student transfer rates, and any additional student support services available.
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