Don’t rule out community college without weighing some of the pros and cons first.
Choosing to attend community college is becoming an increasingly popular option across the United States. While community college does have several positive aspects, stigmas against community colleges and the types of students they attract can leave perspective students hesitant to enroll. Community college is not right for everyone, but for some it is the best path to a higher education.
Costs for community college varies depending on the state. In California, it costs $26 per a unit, or $780 for a year for a full-time student. In the United States, student fees for a full-time student range between $600 and $5,400, averaging $3,131, according to the American Association of Community Colleges.
In-state colleges can costs three times as much as community college, averaging $16,510, and private universities can cost even more, averaging $29,056, according to College Board. The affordability of junior college results in minimal debt after college, if any.
“Greendale Community College, you’re already accepted!” — Greendale Community College Admissions
While NBC’s Community is hilarious and finds clever ways to poke fun at the community college experience, it does remind us of the stigma students face. Enrollment does not require the same rigorous application process that a four-year school does; in fact, all that is needed is a high school transcript or proof of a GED. While an “open door” admission policy does allow everyone the opportunity of education, its lack of exclusivity creates a community of varied enthusiasm.
However, with increasing student fees at four-year schools and increased enrollment in community colleges, the stigma is lessening. Over 22% of high school students in California elect to attend community college in the state, and enrollment in community colleges nationwide jumped 22% between 2007 and 2011.
Approximately 45% of students who got a four-year degree in 2010-2011 transferred from a two-year college, according to Inside Higher Ed. States such as California offer programs to help ensure placement in the college of the transfer student’s choice. One such program, called Transfer Admission Guarantee (TAG) has California community college students sign an agreement with either a University of California (UC) or a California State University (CSU) campus and students are allowed to transfer to their school of choice for junior and senior year.
You can still earn a degree while attending a community college. With an associate’s degree, you are eligible for a wide range of careers. Typically more education means more earning power, however, given the current state of the economy, it might be wiser to enter the job market sooner than later.
Through the TAG program, I was able to successfully transfer to University of California – Santa Cruz. Community college is not a joke; many students approach their classes diligently, work exceedingly hard and display admirable work ethic. On paper, yes, it is easier to attend a community college. The classes are aimed to educate everyone who wants to learn, and there is nothing wrong with that. I will graduate this year from a top university with minimal debt, which would have been impossible if I had not attended community college first. Although it may not be the right choice for everyone, it was definitely the right choice for me.
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