Today, the average college graduate acquires $35,000 in student loans-and that’s without interest! The rising costs-and competitiveness- of universities has made community colleges an increasingly attractive option. Furthermore, over the past few decades, the curriculum and value of community colleges has improved immensely. It’s no wonder that more high school grads are choosing CC’s over universities than ever before. So is community college right for you? Read on to find out!
Pros of Community College
This one is pretty obvious, but the low costs associated with community colleges is a major factor in their appeal. Remember that $35,000 plus in student loans we mentioned earlier? Well, with an average yearly price tag of less than $3,500, you’re unlikely to surmount even a fraction of that debt at a community college.
While this may not apply to everyone, generally, community colleges are located close to home. This means that you’ll be saving thousands of dollars in room and board, meal costs, even laundry! Plus, if you’re not yet fully prepared to live away from home, community college can delay, and even ease, that transition.
At community college, you can make your schedule work for you. Most community colleges offer accommodations, like night classes and flexible class times, to work around your schedule. If you plan on having a job throughout college, this flexibility will allow you to both work and go to school without overwhelming your schedule.
A major perk of community colleges is that they usually offer smaller class sizes. This is great for a number of reasons; smaller class sizes allow you more opportunities to interact with peers and your professor, to build relationships with faculty, to actively participate and contribute in discussions, and to receive more personalized instruction.
Cons of Community College
Unless you’re planning on eventually transferring to a four year university, community college offers limited options in terms of degrees. The highest degree you can earn at a community college is a two year, Associate's Degree. While an Associates degree is valuable, it still doesn’t compare to a four year Bachelor's.
Another downside of community college is the absence of the “traditional” college experience. There’s nothing like the atmosphere of residential life at universities, and while you do gain a sense of community at CCs, it’s not the same experience. That being said, community colleges do offer a substantial degree of involvement through clubs and organization on campus.
If you are planning on eventually transitioning to a four year college, you’ll want to make sure your classes are transferable. Unfortunately, some classes/units from community colleges aren’t transferable to four year universities. To avoid this complication, make sure you meet with an academic advisor about which classes are accepted by different universities.
Again, this one applies to those that will eventually transfer. The workload offered at community colleges might not prepare you for the coursework at universities. The relaxed environment of community colleges is great for a smooth transition from high school classes, but be prepared for a more intense workload at universities.
Still not sure if community college is right for you? Try visiting both universities and community colleges to get a feel of the different vibes on each campus. Talk with your family, friends, academic counselors, and other mentors. Reflect on what you’re looking for in a college- is it prestige? Flexibility? Research opportunities? No one knows you better than you, so make sure you’re taking the appropriate steps to find the school that’s right for you.
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