When you hear the word “college” you probably imagine the classic 4-year school with a quad, dorms, football team, and culminating in a bachelor’s degree. While that’s certainly a popular (albeit expensive) option, it’s not the only one. For those that have doubts about attending a four-year college, there’s an affordable and convenient solution – community colleges.
Community college has gotten a bad rap that it doesn’t deserve. When you really drill down into this options, you’ll see that it offers several benefits. Here are some of the more compelling reasons why everybody should at least consider community college.
Community Colleges = Big Savings
On average, a community college is far more affordable for the American family than the more traditional four-year institution. According to the NCES, the average cost of a 2-year community college in 2016–17 was $10,655 per year. Whereas the average cost of a public 4-year (in-state) college was $17,987 per year. So if you attend a community college for 2 years, then transfer to a traditional college for another two years to complete your bachelor’s, you can save a LOT of money.
Additionally, several states have been offering free community college since 2015. Since then, more states have followed their lead—as of 2018, nearly 20 states offer free-tuition community colleges!
Students Can Get Financial Aid
Community college students may also be eligible for financial aid as long as they meet the requirements. To be eligible for federal student loans, you need to be enrolled half time. That’s about 6 credit hours or 2 courses. In many instances, the FAFSA also assists community college students with work-study opportunities, and grants.
Campuses are Usually Close to Home
Not all community colleges provide dormitories for their students. Often, with a community or technical college, a majority of their students live with their parents, or live nearby. When students don’t need to pay for or worry about where they will stay, this is significant savings for them. Many students can drive, walk, or take public transportation to their school. This also acts as a significant cost-saving measure to their families.
Campuses are Smaller
Smaller campuses are also ideal for many students. Because the campuses are smaller, students enjoy more individualized attention from their instructors. The smaller cohort also means student can get to know one another and forge a sense of, well, community.
Community colleges offer flexible schedules because most students work to support their families or themselves. This is great if you’d like to keep your current job while studying to improve existing skills or learn new skills.
Community colleges offer lots of choices for evening classes. In addition, an increasing number of community colleges are offering online programs. These online programs of study benefit students in terms of convenience as well as cost efficiency.
Local Networking Opportunities
Most community colleges work closely with local businesses for training, employment, and scholarship opportunities. This allows students to benefit from a symbiotic and extremely positive relationship.
Many community colleges offer career counseling and job placement opportunities. This is something larger colleges and universities may not offer simply because of the size of their student body. Networking is becoming more important for students to get jobs, make connections, and expand their impact on their communities.
Credit Transfer Agreements
Sometimes students choose to “start small” and attend community college to see if they really want (or need) a four-year college experience. Later, if they decide they want to continue to a four-year school, transferring credits is easy. This is extremely helpful for those students who may not have achieved much academic success in high school. Many community colleges also offer tutoring and counseling services for students who need it.
Still wondering if a community college has anything to offer? It’s definitely worth spending some time to look around at your nearby community colleges and schedule a campus tour. You may find that it is a great solution for your circumstances. You’ll get a solid education in half the time it takes for a four-year degree. And as a bonus, it will save you a lot of money too. Schedule a tour and see if your local community college is the right fit for you.
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