Sometimes Community College is the Smart Path to University

By on April 26, 2017

College is important, not only for your future career but for how your mind develops and how learn to survive on your own in the world. Whether you are a parent or a high school student researching college options, community college should be on the list.

With higher education costs on the rise over the past decade, many parents and students are mortgaging their futures to pay for degrees that may not be worth the investment. To avoid debt as you learn and pick your path is all the more reason you should consider attending a community college.

As someone who went to a four-year university right out of high school, I can tell you now that I sometimes wish I had gone to a junior college first to save myself at least two-years of university tuition. The decision would have provided an easier transition right out of high school and made much more sense financially.

5 Reasons to Choose Community College

Here are fivereasons why community college may make more sense than attending a four-year college right out of high school:

1. Students Can Make an Easy Transition from High School

There’s no doubt that a university level education is far more difficult overall than community college. However, these campuses offer a range of services, classes and extracurricular activities similar to their larger collegiate campuses.

Many students who attend a university after high school have trouble keeping up with the academic pace and get lost among large class sizes or busy schedules of professors and teaching assistants (graduate students). At a community college, classes are often smaller, professors are much more accessible and can provide the personal time students are accustomed to in the high school environment.

2. Save Thousands of Dollars on Tuition

Higher education is ridiculously expensive! Even with scholarships and financial aid, all the other added expenses and living costs can really add up. The current price of a state four-year institution is nearly triple that of a community college. This is one of the most glaring reasons to go to community college.

Additionally, many students will experience personal growth and switch majors in the first two years. That makes perfect sense because it’s difficult to plan your life at 18 or 19 years old. The problem is that they would have to take some additional classes or delay graduation in order to fulfill requirements for their new majors. This can translate into 5 or 6 years at a four-year university.

A community college allows students to take many of the same required general courses for more than a third of the cost to take the class at university. This saves students and parents time and money. In addition, nearly all of the generally required course and hundreds of other select courses may be transferred over to universities.

If you do plan to attend university, check with the school registrar to determine which credits transfer to avoid having to take the same class twice. And though it may be tempting, forgo enrolling in courses required for your major at university as most majors require you to take a certain amount of upper level credits in house.

3. Benefits From Small Class Sizes and Comparable Services

If you’ve ever walked into a 500 person lecture hall filled with students, you will understand the advantage of small class sizes. Smaller classrooms means more focus, more time to ask questions and more opportunities to connect with professors. And this translates into a better grasp of course materials – you may learn more in these lower level classes.

4. More Time to Make a Major and Career Path Decision

The first two years of college are usually a period of feeling out major programs and exploring career paths. Although many students declare majors out of high school, a sizable amount will end up changing directions once they get more experience with their department’s curriculum. Unless you have a fully mapped out career path, it may be better to take the time and discover your real passion in an environment that won’t cost you over $15,000 a year.

If you are an undecided student, it is highly recommended you attend community college in order to save money as you choose your career path. You can complete your general education requirements with time to discover your true passion in various courses so that you are decided on a major you transfer to university.

5. Earn a Two-Year Associate’s Degree

Community colleges offer students the option to specialize in a field and enter the workforce after completing an associate’s degree in just one or two years. For students who may not go on to a four-year degree or for those looking to boost their earning potential as they work towards their bachelor’s degree, this option may harness the most value of your time in school. Additionally, community colleges maintain close working relationships with local employers to assist students in locating and securing employment after completing their degree.

Community College is a Viable Alternative to University Out of High School

In some cases, a student may simply just be unsure how they want to further their education. And with the cost of attending a four-year university on the rise, there are many reasons why it may make sense to wait to attend – or forgo attending a four-year college degree for an associate’s degree or trade certification.

Students who are undecided or think they may change their major will likely save thousands of dollars and several years of their lives studying when college will really not benefit them. If this is the case, then attending community college is definitely the right way to go.

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About Amanda Jensen

FSN college advice columnist - Amanda gives parents and students knowledgeable advice on college planning, tuition financing and scholarships. With up to date and accessible information covering everything from personal finances to federal government policies, she is determined to make the college experience a painless one for all party's involved. You can find Amanda on !

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