The Benefits Of Community Colleges

The college search process can be overwhelming for many high school upperclassmen and their parents.

Students are excited about the college experience and desperately trying to select the college that best fits their personality and academic goals, while parents are hoping that their children select a college that’s close to home and is within their budget limitations.

In addition to worrying about how they will afford their son or daughter’s college tuition, parents also worry that their child may get “lost in the crowd” and not receive the individualized services that students receive at the high school level.

With these thoughts in mind, before rushing off to look at four-year colleges and universities, I urge students to consider the benefits of a community college.

Community colleges offer a great way for students to transition from high school to college, as opposed to diving right into the large university atmosphere.

Some would argue that a two-year junior college will in fact provide a superior education than a four-year university given that the first two years of college mainly focus on general education or prerequisite courses rather than specialized courses in the student’s intended field of study.

Community Colleges vs. 4-Year Universities

  • Classroom Size: Many people find that it is easier to transition from high school to a junior college because of classroom size.  At large 4-year universities, lower level classes tend to take place in large auditoriums, whereas in community college, the classes tend to be a lot smaller with a lot more student-teacher interaction.  Additionally, students who have special learning needs are often “lost in the shuffle” when entering a large university.  Not only do community colleges offer smaller class sizes, but they also offer many opportunities for tutoring as well as classes specifically focused on how to study for college-level courses.
  • Lower Tuition Costs: Community colleges are usually significantly cheaper than most 4-year universities.  Most families do not find the cost of community college to be nearly as much of a financial burden as large universities.  Given that affordability is the number one concern amongst college-bound high school seniors – this is definitely a huge plus.
  • Flexible Class Schedules: Community colleges tend to offer very flexible class schedules.  Also, some junior colleges even offer online courses.
  • Various Programs of Study: In addition to the traditional associate’s degree, a lot of community colleges offer various certification programs.  This means that students who do not desire a traditional 4-year curriculum, but rather prefers to enter the workforce soon can actually get a certification in a specialized field.  This means that students can actually graduate in as little as 1 year and begin earning money a lot sooner than if you were to go the traditional 4-year route.

Who Should Consider Community Colleges?

If you just aren’t sure you want to invest the next 4-5 years of your life in pursuit of a traditional 4-year degree or you simply aren’t ready to commit to a specialized field of study, then it might be a good idea for you to strongly consider attending a junior college for two years rather than making the jump to a large university setting.

If you are stuck in the middle and you just can’t decide, consider making a list of all the pros and cons of each to determine which would be the best course of action for your specific needs.  Also consider your current financial situation and determine if a community college might better fit with your budget.

Transferring To A 4-Year University

Keep in mind, just because you attend a community college for two years, doesn’t mean that you can’t transfer to a 4-year university once you’ve earned your associate’s degree or at any time during that education as long as you meet that specific university’s requirements.

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TheCollegeHelper

TheCollegeHelper

Lauren Anderson is a certified school counselor who's passionate about helping students all over the world successfully transition from high school to college! After spending 6 years as a business professional, she obtained her Master’s degree in School Counseling and now spends her spare time helping students.
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