Attending community college following high school graduation seems to have always had a stigma attached to it. When the question is asked on where you are going to college and the answer is a local community college the thought of not being able to get into a four-year university is what some people associate with this. Also, people often believe community college has a reduction in quality education. The suggestion of not attending a traditional four-year college should be a consideration and there are several reasons for contemplating the decision.
Community College Costs are Lower
One of the biggest reasons to think about not starting college at a four-year university is cost. The average college credit hour is $594, according to Student Loan Hero. A four-year public university credit hour is about $325. Private four-year university credit hours are on average $1,039 with public ones being around $325. Compare this to the median two-year community college credit hour cost of $135 and there is a significant difference. With the costs of college, there would undoubtedly be a substantial difference of $10,000 or more by attending a community college for the first two years.
The cost of going to college does not appear to be going down anytime soon. The continual rise in the price of higher education time and again puts many graduating students in a stranglehold of student loan debt. This results in years of paying back a debt that can limit financial goals and security. Why pay more for general education classes that are required in the first couple of years at college?
Lower Cost of Living
College credit hours are more expensive at conventional 4-year schools, but the real cost is with living expenses. The College Board estimates the median living expenses for 2018-2019 to be $24,980 for 12 months. This is in addition to credit hours and books. The added expenditures for living could be avoided by staying at home for the first two years at college. This isn’t an option for everyone, but if it is then there is an extensive savings attending community college.
Time to Think
It can be hard to know what to do once graduating high school. Some students just know what they want to do with their life while others only have an idea. Plans and goals can many times quickly change with just a few years after high school graduation. Spending a few years to have a clear idea of career goals can be a little easier attending community college not to mention less expensive. It is not uncommon for college students to change directions several times regarding a major of study. Attending community college and taking some electives in courses of interest is much less costly than a four-year college.
Flexibility of Community College
Not everyone has the luxury of going to college without holding down a job simultaneously. Doing this is many times more attainable at a community college because they often offer more flexible schedules. Community college is made for working adults. A greater number of night classes are more common allowing work to be more realistic while attending school.
In addition to being able to hold a job much easier while attending community college, application and registration deadlines are commonly much later compared to four-year schools. With this ability to enroll later there is a last-minute option to start taking classes.
Community College Class Size
Large four-year universities can have classes with 150-300 students. This makes it easy to get lost in the crowd. Comparably, community college classes are much smaller. A reduced class size results in more attention and many times a better learning environment. It allows for more interaction with other students and professors. Furthermore, more community college students tend to be paying their own way. This can create an environment with students being more serious about their studies.
There are good teachers and less desirable ones at all universities. There seems to particularly be a notion that community college professors are not as high quality compared to teachers with larger four-year universities. This just isn’t always the case. It may be true that community colleges tend to get newer instructors, but this isn’t necessarily negative.
The methods and curriculums of teaching evolve over time. Newer professors may be more up to date on these. Also, they may be more enthusiastic about teaching when matched against a 20-year tenured instructor.
Not the Best Student
If a high school student did not get the best grades or had a difficult time, community college is a good option. Four-year universities look at test scores and grades for admission. A student applying with substandard credentials will have a challenging time getting accepted. The good news is that many large in state universities have agreements in place with local community colleges. Attending a local 2-year school can be a good way to get accepted to a traditional four-year college.
Community college is a good place to start for a student that did not do well in high school. Furthermore, there can often be required remedial classes for struggling students. These remedial courses are not free and credit is not given for them toward a degree. Taking these types of courses at community college is much cheaper than a traditional university.
The term four-year college is really just a term. The reality is that a large majority of students never really finish in just four short years. Research shows that obtaining a bachelor degree can take five or six years. Calculating the cost of attending a four-year university at just that many years is seldom the case. Keeping this in mind, there can be even further savings by attending community college for a few years.
Two Years of College and a Good Career
There are studies all over the place that suggest someone with a four-year degree out earns a person with a lesser education over a lifetime. However, this statistic is not entirely automatic. The return on investment in a bachelor degree is not always better than an associate degree. There are plenty of careers that have good earning potential with just two years of college.
Computer programmers, air traffic controllers, and dental hygienists are just a few of the career’s that can be obtained with two years of school. These can out-earn many of the bachelor degree’s obtained contrary to what regularly is written about how four-years of college always earns more money.
Is Community College a Good Choice?
The decision to attend community college is reliant on a number of factors. But one of the undeniable features is the cost. The expenses with a traditional four-year college are much higher in comparison to a community college. The higher price has the potential to result in debt that can last many years or even a lifetime. Depending on the amount of debt, this can limit a person’s financial goals and quality of life.
Because community college offers the first two years of general education courses at a reduced cost compared to a four-year university, why pay the additional cost when given the right school the credits will transfer? Furthermore, the quality of education is no less and may even be more beneficial for the first few years of college.
There is nothing wrong with attending a four-year university, but there is a decision to be made if doing it will create student loans that can be avoidable. There is no guarantee of a great career immediately after college in most instances and there is also no promise of a job that will pay the income to pay back any debt.
Not only will going to a community college save money, but it can also be a stepping stone for students that may not have the credentials for a traditional state university. These high school graduates possibly might not believe they can make it in college. Yet, community college can be a good way to begin at a reduced price.
Community college no longer has the terrible stigma it once did. It can be a good choice for the right situation both financially and personally.