It’s time for you juniors to start thinking about college. But even if you don’t get into the school you covet, know that your life is far from over.
I attended Harvard even after my state university sent me a rejection letter and I took night classes at a community college! A community college could be your ticket to professional success, educational fulfillment and personal enrichment.
Will my grades drop if I transfer?
Students who transfer from community colleges tend to earn grades equal to, if not better than, students who begin at four-year colleges or universities.
When you transfer, get to work and study hard. However, don’t be surprised or disillusioned if your grades drop a bit. Transfer students often experience a half-point drop after their first semester at a four-year college. High school students face a similar transitional drop in their GPA when they start college. If you’re like most students, your GPA will rise soon after your first semester.
What about my career?
How many of you already know your lifelong calling, let alone your major? According to the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC), the majority of new jobs created by 2014 will require postsecondary education. And half of the students who receive a bachelor’s degree attend community college during the course of their undergraduate studies.
A postsecondary education is expensive, and costs are climbing. According to the AACC, a community college education will set you back $2,361 a year compared to $6,184 a year at a four-year public college. Additionally, you can save even more on other expenses, such as housing and food, when you stay closer to home.
Think the whole deal is just too expensive and not worth it? Think again. The average lifetime earnings of an associate degree graduate are $400,000 more than what a high school graduate earns. You’ll earn even more if you continue your education at a four-year school.
Go with the flow
Even though attending community college wasn’t in your original plan, take advantage of what it has to offer. The cost of changing paths will be much more acceptable to your financial bottom line by attending a community college.
For example, you might have thought in high school you wanted to pursue a career in forestry management. Then, while attending courses at community college, you find your true passion is in the health care field. That revelation would have been much more costly at a four-year school!
John A. Peeler is a Lieutenant Colonel in the U.S. Army and a National Security Fellow at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.