What is community college?
The term community college is most often used to describe a publicly funded two-year institutions which awards associates degrees and certifications. Some community colleges are also referred to as technical schools depending on the curriculum offered through the school.
So what are the benefits to attending a community college after graduating from high school?
• Cheaper tuition than a four-year school.
Most community colleges have a price per class or cost per credit hour that are considerably lower than a four-year college or university. This lower cost is on top of the fact that many students will choose to live at home while attending a community college, erasing the need for room, board or meal plans as part of the cost for attending.
• A good way to get a feel for college-level work.
If you weren’t a strong academic student in high school, making the leap to college-level work can be frustrating. Even the best high school students can get tripped up by college work. The independence that most college professors give their students can be confusing as well. Not having a teacher asking for something to be turned in or issuing reminders can be a difficult concept to grasp if you were a student who worked well with that kind of structure.
• Transfer your credits to a four-year school.
If you work from the beginning with a plan to transfer your credits to a four-year school, make sure you are working with the transfer counselor on campus to guarantee you are taking classes that will benefit the transfer. Community colleges are used to this and have articulation agreements with many four-year colleges to ensure that you are sticking to a path both schools have agreed upon.
• Priority registration with the more college credits you have.
It is a well-known fact that the students with more credits already on the books get their first pick of classes when registration opens up. Taking community college courses in the summer or even in high school sets you up to enter college ahead of your class with additional credit hours. Each credit hour gets you closer to the top, and when you are registering in a competitive field with lower class sizes, this will make the difference between graduating on time or having to stay an extra semester or even a year.
• Fulfill both high school and college requirements.
If you took a college-level course at a community college as a high school student, check to make sure that the course will count for both a high school credit and a college credit.
• Figure out your major before transferring.
As it was mentioned above, if you know that the community college is a stepping stone to a four-year college, then have a plan in place for your major and your credit hours to transfer.
This will ensure that your years spent taking courses doesn’t go to waste. Having a major will also make it easier for a four-year college to accept your transfer into a specific program.
• Take advantage of the libraries, clubs and study abroad opportunities.
Even if you choose to live at home while attending a community college, you should take advantage of the social opportunities that will be available to you. You will be a college student, after all! This is a great time in your life to explore clubs and opportunities to go abroad with a group. Use the library between your classes to study or get work done. You’ll meet other students there, too, and have a chance to learn about other things to do on campus.
As you can see, there are many benefits to attending a community college either instead of a four-year university (depending on the career you want) or to ramp up to enrolling in a four-year school.
If you plan ahead, you can save a lot of money and still have a great experience while making new friends.