When it comes to choosing community college, there’s no doubt that “cheap” serves as one of its most alluring qualities. But consider the other benefits of a community college—beyond the inexpensive tuition.
Here are some ways to use a community college.
Start college in high school
Investigate if your high school has a partnership with a community college that would allow you to take college classes for both high school and college credit.
Take advantage of any higher-level learning opportunities you can become involved in; you will save money and maybe even open up space for that wild camping elective freshman year!
Take classes while on breaks
I know, I know, summer and winter breaks are for relaxing. But if you live close to a campus, why not schedule just one or two classes to score some additional credits—and maybe even save you from boredom—during breaks? (You know those “Full House” reruns won’t cut it for long!) Get up at 10, go to class until noon, then go wake up the friends you know will still be sleeping while you’re getting ahead!
Live at home
Staying put at home is probably one of the most effective cost-cutters a community college offers. It’s easy to get anxious to move out and claim independence, but why live in an apartment 15 minutes from home when you can enjoy free groceries and a paid electric bill every month? It’s just an extra year or two, and in the grand scheme of things, you’ll have plenty of time for freedom once you’re off to a university or enter the working world.
Hop on a plane
Consider studying abroad through a community college. Ask about any trips the college or your department offers, and keep your eyes peeled for posters advertising excursions. It could be as close as a weekend road trip to a neighboring city or a plane to Spain.
Autumn Kuhn, a student at Finger Lakes Community College (flcc.edu), found herself in France after hearing about a trip her college was offering. Her positive experience with the trip helped her encourage other students to get involved with similar opportunities.
“You will make so many friends and make connections all over the world,” Kuhn says.
Work for your education
College itself is work, but you pay to be there. But if you consider work-study while you’re a community college student, you might be able to help pay for it.
Work-study offers accommodating work hours and a paycheck. Use the money toward tuition or as extra cash.
Elizabeth Baker works on the on-campus Starbucks.
“I really love it because it’s right on campus and I get to be social and see everyone I go to school with,” says Baker. “My work-study is cool because Starbucks is open late, and I can get hours that work around my schedule. And because you’re working through the school, they know homework and tests are more important and can work with you to get time off for school stuff.”
With a deal like this, you can manage to make money serving lattes at your on-campus coffee house, or selling books at the bookstore, all while making it to class on time!
Marissa MacKenzie Longstreet was an intern at Next Step Magazine. She enjoys cameras, vegetarian-friendly meals and anticipating an auspicious future in journalism.