Community colleges are becoming a popular option for many students, especially those for whom a traditional college course is beyond their academic or financial means. A recent study conducted by the American Association of community colleges found that 4 in 10 first-time freshmen attend a 2-year community college course rather than taking a full 4-year course. Why not take a look at our guide below to help you decide if Community College could be the right route to success for you?
What Is a Community College?
Most community colleges offer 2-year courses at an affordable rate in many locations. The reasons for students choosing a community college include:
- To start earning basic credits which can be transferred to a 4-year college course.
- To follow a 2 year associate’s degree or certificate program in preparation for a particular career.
- To find out more about a potential new career, learn new skills with an eye to a specific area of employment, or simply to follow a personal interest.
Why choose a Community College?
Community colleges offer advantages to any student, but are particularly suitable for those who fall into the following categories.
- Cost of traditional college is too high. Tuition fees at most community colleges are usually much more affordable than at traditional 4 year colleges. Even if you plan to eventually attend a 4-year school, you can save big bucks by taking a couple of semesters of general prerequisites at a community college.
- Your grades aren’t up to scratch. You’ll usually find that you will be accepted by any community college as long as you have a high school diploma, a refreshing change, especially if the more competitive 4-year colleges have knocked you back! Once you’ve completed your 2-year course, it may be easier to prove that you have the academic ability to go on to study at a 4-year college.
- You require training for a particular job. If you have a specific technical or vocational career in mind, community college can provide a no-nonsense 2-year course that allows you to focus on this rather than having to study a range of subjects.
- You can’t, or don’t want to, leave home. Lots of high school students don’t feel ready to take on the responsibility of living away from home, or have personal commitments that mean that living away isn’t a feasible option. A community college allows you to embark on the next phase of your education without losing the security provided by living at home.
- You require a flexible schedule. Do you have employment or family commitments that would make a regular college timetable impossible to follow? If so, community colleges offer a whole host of options, including day, evening or weekend classes, the chance to study part-time, or even online courses.
Drawbacks of Community College
Naturally, while community colleges are great for those on a tight budget or with complicated schedules, they aren’t the best choice for everyone. What follows are some of the most important differences between community colleges and their 4-year counterparts to keep in mind during your college search.
- Choice of Majors and Courses: Community colleges, though they might offer a range of courses, can never compete with the vast number of majors and combinations of classes you can choose to study at 4-year colleges.
- Academic Regimen: If you like to move at a fast rate, and pick up concepts quickly, you may find that community college isn’t for you. Bear in mind that they are designed to serve a broad cross-section of society, accepting students of all abilities, therefore the classes may not learn as quickly as you anticipate.
- Collegiate Experience: Nothing can compare to the social experience provided by living out at a 4-year college. Community college students may have all the freedom by studying online courses or having flexible schedules, but you can’t beat living in a dorm and hanging out on the quad for building a social network that will last you a lifetime!