Oftentimes, community colleges get overlooked in the college application process in favor of more traditional four-year colleges and universities. However, there are so many reasons why someone may choose to attend a community college. Let’s dig into why community college may be the right option for you!
Qualified Professors. Let’s begin by debunking the myth that community college teachers and professors are not qualified. This could not be further from the truth! Community colleges go through similar processes as other colleges and universities to recruit, vet, and hire their teachers and professors. Additionally, many strong teachers and professors choose to work at community colleges due to their passion for teaching, the flexible schedule offered, and their desire to gain more experience. Because of the smaller class sizes, you may be able to develop more personal relationships with your instructors, which will give you a leg up as you explore careers in fields you are interested in. And a bonus is many times, professors at community colleges work in the field and tech at night and can bring about valuable insight into your courses.
Individualized Attention. Carrying on from our last point, community college campuses and classes are often smaller than those of traditional four-year universities. This means that you will have the opportunity to build strong and meaningful relationships with your teachers, academic and financial aid counselors, as well as classmates. Many folks who have gone through the community college experience have described it as a great way to bridge the gap between high school and college because they felt more comfortable raising their hand, asking questions, and contributing their ideas.
Transfer Credits. Many folks who start at a community college don’t always end up graduating from there. Because community college credits can often transfer over to other colleges and universities, some students choose to begin their college career at a community college to meet many, if not all, of the general education requirements needed for graduation without paying the higher price tags. As long as you meet the transferring university's qualification requirements, you can earn credits at a community college and then transfer to another school for your bachelor's.
Save money! We all know that earning a bachelor’s degree is super expensive, and the cost itself can often hold some students back from committing to four years at a traditional college or university. Going to community college can be a great option for someone looking to save some money while still staying fresh on their academic skills. Generally, the cost of a community college is much more affordable. In addition to being able to save money on general education requirements and/or transferable credits, you may also avoid other costs associated with attending colleges, such as room and board, if the community college is close to your home.
Financial Aid Options. Another misconception about community colleges is that there are no options for financial aid because it is less expensive. This couldn’t be further from the truth! It is important to know that you are eligible for the same types of financial aid at a community college that you would be offered at a four-year institution. And if you receive a pell-grant, it might cover the entire cost! Besides lower tuition costs, most community colleges offer financial aid support for students who need assistance paying for materials and even transportation or housing. Students can apply for special grant programs or student loan programs that sometimes have lower interest rates than traditional student loans. In fact, it may be a bit easier to get an appointment and find time to work with your financial aid counselor at a community college because of the small and individualized learning environment discussed previously.
Time to Focus on Other Pursuits. In addition to saving money, attending a community college may be able to provide you with the time needed to improve your grades, work a job, take care of your family, and manage your personal life. Many community colleges offer night and online classes, which will allow you to plan your classes around your schedule and achieve a work/life balance that you are happy with.
Opportunities for Growth. Community college is a great option if you don't feel too confident about your performance in high school or worry that you may be lacking skills needed to feel successful at a four-year college. You will be able to grow in skills and create a new academic record for yourself, making your high school transcript less relevant if you do choose to transfer your credits and graduate elsewhere.
Time to Choose a Major. Furthermore, you may just need time to decide what you want to study and which careers interest you. A community college can give you the opportunity to explore your general education requirements as well as any other classes that may make it easier for you to choose your major.
Earn a professional degree or certificate. Many community college students benefit from being able to narrow their focus in order to obtain a professional degree or vocational training. Students who pursue trades in technology, engineering, health care and other vocations are able to attend specifically designed courses, so they can begin their careers after completing their education, often in less time than it takes at other schools.
College experiences! Another misconception with community colleges is that you will be missing out on the “college experience”. Lots of community colleges are equipped with the same amenities that four year colleges have, such as food courts, sports complexes, and student recreation centers. Some community colleges even offer dorms, sports, and clubs. At the end of the day, the college experience is what you make of it, so don't be afraid to get out there!
We hope that this list of benefits has been helpful to you as you consider community college as an option for your post-high school life! We encourage you to add a community college (or two!) on your college visits list so that you can gain an understanding of the campus and experience in order to determine if it would be a right fit for you.