8 Reasons to Study at a Community College

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While most students fix their eyes on a traditional four-year college experience, many more are choosing to study at a community college.

What is a community college in the first place? How does it differ from other tertiary or higher education institutions?

According to the Department of Homeland Security, a community college (which is sometimes called a junior college) is a tertiary academic institution that only offers two years of college education.

There are 1,167 community colleges around the United States, and more than 12 million students are enrolled in them.

These colleges also offer degrees, so those who study at them don’t have to proceed to a four-year university to be a college graduate.

Also, community colleges are generally non-residential, which means you don’t have to move in to your college campus to study, thus saving you rent money.

Although there are a few colleges that offer on-campus housing (many in the states of California, Texas, Iowa, and New York), most community colleges don’t require their students to live on college grounds.

George R. Boggs, former president of the American Association of Community Colleges, said that junior colleges are particularly attractive to those struggling with money and those who want to work in technical fields.

Even without a prestigious name on your diploma, you can still work in the industry you want and find success in path you choose if you want to subsequently study again after your time at a community college, like these celebrities.

If you’re still not sure, here are the top reasons why you should study at a community college.

Community College is Affordable

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Presently, the student loan debts have risen to more than a trillion US dollars.  The best schools are either very expensive or extremely selective. And while these factors can make you think twice about going to a university, community colleges offer a more affordable alternative.

According to the American Association of Community Colleges and the College Board, the average tuition for a student at a community college is a little more than $3,000. Now compare that to regular public four-year college that can amount to $10,000 a year.

In fact, the tuition fee for students at Coffeyville Community College is as low as $2,304.

You can also pursue over 37 programs there, particularly in the humanities where students get credits for attending performances. The college also offers scholarships for students, and even though it’s a community college, it has three campuses since its merger with another local school.

Community Colleges are Close to Home

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Since these colleges are non-residential, you are not required to live on campus, thus, saving your wallet from further abuse. According to the Princeton Review, there are community colleges within walking or commuting distance from most residence areas.

This is particularly helpful for someone who needs to stay close to home, has family obligations, or already has a house and doesn’t want to move for college.

Work Part-Time While Attending Community College

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When you study at a four-year university, you generally have to be a full-time student to complete all four years, but most students at community colleges are either working part-time to pursue a further degree after community college, or are already working and want to attain a college degree.

Many colleges, like Garden City Community College in Kansas, offer online courses for distance learning. Many of these colleges offer weekend and night classes, so anyone working can still pursue a degree.

Students at these junior colleges have more say in their academic plan. Without the pressure to finish a program within a specific four-year plan, students can learn (and work) at their own pace.

You Can Get a Degree at Community College

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Robert Miller, superintendent-president at Pasadena City College, says that the perception of people that community colleges are inferior couldn’t be more wrong.

Many of these colleges offer quality education, with a degree that allows students a better chance at employment.

Now, what about a bachelor’s degree? It’s still possible when you study at a community college.

An articulation agreement means that when you finish two years of community college and earn an associate degree, you can move on to a four-year state university or college as a junior student.

The articulation agreement isn’t clear across all community colleges, though. Florida, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, California, and Virginia help their students achieve this status if they want to pursue a bachelor’s degree.

If you want an associate degree, then you’re all set, but if you want a bachelor’s, then you can ask for more information at your community college, where you can peruse and learn about its articulation agreement so you can see which courses can earn credits at state universities you might study at in the future.

You Don’t Need Good Grades for Community College

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Maybe you had a bad time in high school, or maybe you just didn’t do well on some subjects. You’ll definitely have a hard time gaining admission in a regular four-year college

A community college, meanwhile, allows open admittance to anyone interested in taking courses. While you don’t need to have a high GPA to enter a community college, keeping good grades during your community college years is another matter.

Just make sure that you have passed your subjects, and if you’re a high school student who wants to get a head start in college, make sure that you have completed the necessary units, and have a written approval from your principal.

Community Colleges Have Quality Education

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There is still some stigma attached to community college education, primarily because they’re more affordable than their four-year counterparts.

But rest assured that community colleges are accredited by the same agencies that inspect four-year universities, which means that a highly accredited community college offers the same quality education as a four-year state university.

Also, your teachers at a community college won’t suddenly be pulled or pressured to do research or publish scientific articles. You’ll see them more, and you can be assured that their first priority is teaching college students.

Also, they generally have a master’s degree in the field they’re teaching, and have passed the requirements by the college, the state, and the accreditation departments.

Financial Aid is Easier to Get at a Community College

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You might think that, because it’s already affordable, a community college doesn’t offer financial aid. On the contrary, these colleges also offer their students financial help. Anyone can apply for federal grants or college-based scholarships.

In fact, 100% of students at the Cleveland Community College have received financial support, even with the $2,304 in-state tuition.

Students can choose when to take their classes (day or night). What’s more is that this college has a cosmetology salon and esthetic spa as part of its learning labs. Also, students can undergo basic law enforcement and fire-rescue training.

Anyone who has very little money to spend on college can certainly apply for college grants, as well as scholarships to pursue post-secondary education.

Community Colleges Have More Course Choices

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Offer academic courses that can earn you transferable credits for when you pursue a bachelor’s degree, but they also offer associate degrees in STEM fields for employment or better chances of admission to their chosen colleges.

Also, many colleges are responsible for producing firefighters, paramedics, and nurses. Also, some STEM industries or companies are looking for specific skill sets. They place a higher value on skill and experience over a bachelor’s degree at a prestigious university.

With more courses offered at a community college that are skill-based, you can earn certificates, diplomas, or associate degrees for promotion or professional development.

Ultimately, these types of colleges offer various benefits and advantages to anyone seeking employment or higher education. If you plan your college education wisely, a community college can help you reach your full potential and pave your way to success.

Rob Clark
 

SchoolCampus.org admin staff managing editor

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