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5 Myths About Community Colleges Busted: What You Really Need to Know

Heading off to college is a big step, and with it comes the pressure to pick the "right" school. Community colleges often get overshadowed by the glitz of four-year universities, but it's time to clear the air and bust some myths that have been floating around. Plus, it's worth noting that community colleges are actually a springboard for many students to jump to four-year universities, equipped with both credits and confidence. So, grab a seat, and let's debunk these myths one by one.

Myth #1: Community Colleges Are Not for the "Smart" Kids

The idea that community colleges are only for students who didn't do well in high school couldn't be further from the truth. Community colleges offer a diverse range of programs and courses that cater to a wide array of interests and academic levels, including honors programs for high-achieving students such as the City University of New York (CUNY) Honors Program or the Honors Program at Maricopa Community Colleges in Arizona. They are a launchpad for many students who later transfer to four-year universities. Plus, the smaller class sizes mean you get more personalized attention from your professors, who are focused on teaching and your personal growth.

Myth #2: You Can't Get a Good Job with a Community College Degree

In reality, many community colleges offer vocational and technical programs designed to meet the demands of the job market. Pursuing a career in healthcare, technology, engineering, and more is not only possible but can also lead to competitive salaries and strong job growth. Take the health sciences programs, for instance, which train students to become nurses, radiology technicians, or dental hygienists. Or the technology programs that offer pathways into cybersecurity, network administration, or software development. Employers know that community colleges prepare students with the skills they need to hit the ground running, with many programs designed in collaboration with local businesses, so you know you're learning skills that employers value.

Myth #3: The Social Life is Non-Existent

Some students worry that attending a community college means missing out on the traditional college experience. In fact, community colleges have been stepping up their game and many offer a rich campus life, complete with extracurricular activities, sports teams, clubs, and arts. About a third of public community colleges in the United States offer on-campus housing, and these are spread across most of the United States. Additionally, many community colleges offer study abroad programs, such as the Maryland Community College International Education Consortium, further ensuring that students have a complete and engaging college experience.

Myth #4: Community Colleges Don't Offer Real Degrees

Community colleges award associate degrees, certificates, and in some cases, bachelor's degrees, all of which are legitimate, recognized credentials that can launch your career or serve as a stepping stone to further education. Whether it's an associate degree in graphic design that lands you a job at a marketing firm or a certificate in culinary arts that opens the door to the restaurant industry, these credentials have real power. Many students use their time at community colleges to explore different fields of study, save on tuition, and then transfer to four-year institutions with a clearer idea of what they want to pursue, often with little to no debt.

Myth #5: It's a Last Resort

Some people see community college as a backup plan, but that's not the whole story. In truth, many students choose community college for a variety of reasons: to save money, stay close to home, manage part-time jobs or caregiving responsibilities, or explore their options before committing to a major. For many, it's the first choice, not the last, because it fits with their personal and financial goals.

Notable Alumni

Community colleges have been the starting point for many successful individuals across various industries. Here are some notable alumni:

  • Tom Hanks - Before he was a two-time Oscar-winning actor, Tom Hanks attended Chabot College in California and transferred to California State University, Sacramento after two years.

  • Eileen Collins - The first female Space Shuttle commander attended Corning Community College in New York before transferring to Syracuse University.

  • George Lucas - Before creating the "Star Wars" saga, Lucas studied anthropology at Modesto Junior College in California before transferring to the University of Southern California (USC).

  • Arnold Schwarzenegger - The actor and former governor of California studied at Santa Monica College before transferring to the University of Wisconsin-Superior.

The Pathway to a Four-Year University

For those starting at a community college, transferring to a four-year university is a common goal. But let's face it, figuring out how to switch from a community college to a university can be a confusing and frustrating experience for students, and the statistics show that the journey isn't always straightforward. Despite nearly 80% of community college students indicating that they hope to transfer and complete a bachelor’s degree, only 16% earn their bachelor's degree within six years.

The good news is, we've put together a webinar to guide you through making this transition as smooth and successful as possible. This session is designed to provide you with the tools, knowledge, and confidence to take you from community college to a four-year university. It’s perfect for high school seniors contemplating the community college path or for those already in community college who are eyeing that next step. And it's not just for students—parents, guardians, advisors, and counselors can pick up helpful tips to support the students they care about during this change. Join us to take the guesswork out of the transfer equation and start your journey on the right foot. Register today here!



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