Community colleges are publicly funded two-year institutions that offer higher education courses, certificates, diplomas, and associate degrees. For students just out of high school, as well as adult and nontraditional students, attending a community college has many financial, scheduling, and educational benefits and can be an important first step to completing a four-year degree. If you’re unsure if community college is for you, here are seven benefits to consider.
- Small college feel with university resources: The student services available to students of a community college are generally identical to those offered at a four-year institution. Thanks to smaller campuses and fewer numbers of students, there more opportunities at a community college for individual academic advising, career counseling, and otherwise interacting with the school’s academic and administrative staff.
- Open admission: Thanks to community colleges’ open admission policy, which stipulates that a high school diploma or GED guarantees admission, students with low high school GPAs who enroll can take time to develop their academic skills and create a college record of better grades. Even if your high school academic record is unimpressive, four-year colleges and universities will take into account the grades you made while at a community college.
- Easier transition out of high school: For some, college right after high school can be an overwhelming experience. Many students find the transition from high school to community college easier to handle, and a great way to prepare for a four-year college. High school graduates can use the first year or two at a community college to study and master basic subjects and become acclimated to the academic demands of college-level courses.
- You’ll save a lot of money: Tuition at a community college, which on-average amounts to $3,000 a year for full-time tuition, is much lower than tuition at public and private colleges and universities. You can save yourself a significant amount of money by completing some basic, prerequisite courses at a community college and then transferring the credits toward a degree offered by a four-year institution.
- Ability to transfer: Many four-year colleges and universities allow community college students to transfer classes, including basic requisites like English 101, basic biology, and basic math, toward a degree. However, you will need to do some research to be sure that the classes you’re taking at a community college can transfer to the specific four-year school you are interested in.
- Work, family or other obligations: Community colleges generally offer weekend, evening, and online courses in order to better serve its students who work full-time, part-time, or have family obligations. The mission of community colleges is to provide quality education and flexible scheduling options for so-called nontraditional students, who today actually represent a vast majority of higher education students.
- Quick, job oriented certification: If your goal isn’t to transfer from a community college into a bachelor’s program at a four-year school, you have the option of earning credentials or certification in a specific professional field. Many community colleges offer advanced technology training and skill-based education programs that take a year or less to complete.