How do you know if community college is right for you?
If you don’t feel ready to leave home, if you need to save money or if you need some time to improve upon your academic GPA.
A community college is a bridge. Do you need a bridge? It may be an emotional bridge drom high school to a large university, it may be a financial bridge to decrease your total education costs, or it may be something else. Bridges are useful! Also, students who are full time students at a four year institution, are increasingly also taking classes at community colleges to study over the summer, graduate early, or to complete general education requirements that most insitutions require students to take, such as Composition or College Algebra.
The question of Community College is a very personal one and is rooted on an individual’s motivation and final goal. I have counseled a number of students who seek Community College as an alternative for a number of reasons. The most common are as follows:
2) Admission Competition
3) Emotional Maturity
4) Academic Maturity
5) Academic Goal of an Associates Degree
For the purposes of this question I would like to focus on a response to the Financial as well as how competitive it is to get into college. Here, you need to ask yourself and be honest, what is your level of motivation. The community college is a wonderful way to save money and demonstrate the ability to succeed at the college level. However, if your view of Community College is the “easy road” and that of the “13th Grade” then you will most likely fall short of a 2 year and transfer goal and in the long run, college may end up costing you more and taking longer. It is important to keep in mind, Community College is in fact COLLEGE. The courses that are transferable are challenging and will prepare you for the rigor of a major university. But you need to be willing to put in the hard work to make it happen. I recommend to my students who are seeking C.C. admissions to maintain a rigorous high school curriculum so that the transition to your college classes is seamless. You must also be persistent and willing to access the many opportunities that community college offers. You will also need to evaluate the importance of the “first year experience”. A majority of C.C. students live at home or close to home and never get that “first year experience” that they would at traditional 4 year school. In short, if community college is an option for you, my best advice is to set yourself up to succeed. Take the time to hone in your study skills and time management so you hit the ground running and can be successful from the moment you step on campus.
Like all college questions, this is pertinent and important. There are many questions you need to ask yourself in order to answer this question! Do you have serious financial concerns? Are you completely undecided about what you may want to major in? Are you short course credits, or did you perform poorly in school? Did your high school have limited options that made it impossible for you to take competitive level classes, like Honors or AP? Are you returning to school and have to work full time?
Community colleges today offer many opportunities for students, even while they are still in high school, to explore different employment and educational options. For example, there are several opportunities to enter the world of hospitality management with a two year degree. And for those students who are not sure what they want to do, these types of community college courses also come with experential learning opportunities, such as internships, that can help you develop an area of interest. And if you are working, taking one or two classes in a community college during the evening allows you to engage with other students like yourself that are not always available to you in on-line courses, while also giving you an education that is convenient for time and location considerations.
Some community colleges can also help families manage financial considerations. For example, you can take one or two years worth of general credit classes, and then transfer those credits to another university or college for your junior year, thereby reducing or even eliminating some of the attendant debt load. Of course, some students also have very real concerns about their grades in high school, or the types of classes they took while in high school, feeling that these might not “look good” to a college admissions counselor. If you are not interested in being an “academic” and are just looking to get a decent job, then community college may be the best answer for you. On the other hand, if your grades were not as good as you would have liked them to be and you do want to pursue higher education, a year or two of community college can give you the credentials you need. This might also include helping you develop better learning habits that you did not develop in high school. Some students even pursue the community college route while they are still in high school, especially during the summer months, to “make up” classes or supplement what they already have (such as learning a foreign language or taking an AP level class).
Whatever your reasons for selecting a community college, consider that there are more options than not! It is up to you to find the options that make sense for you.
If all other schools are unaffordable, and it has a curriculum that can lead you in the right direction – go for it & Good Luck!
Many types of students go to community college. In the past, the majority of applications were for the traditional age student who didn’t achieve the highest grades in high school, or the older student who wanted to wrap up a degree. But now, more and more 18-year-olds who’ve done really well in high school are also looking at community college. – Community college is a good choice if you want to get a degree beyond high school without going for four years. You’ll graduate in 2 years with increased job skills and earning potential. – Community college is a great way to save money. In Connecticut, where I’m from, tuition for 2011-2012 is about $3,500 for the year. – Transferring to a four-year school isn’t as difficult as you might think. Check your college’s website or talk to an admission counselor for more information. Some states will automatically admit students who graduate with a certain GPA to their four-year state schools. Just make sure, when you talk to the admission counselor, to ask him or her to help you choose courses whose credits will transfer. – Many community colleges also have transfer agreements with four-year private schools. For instance, Housatonic Community College in Bridgeport, Connecticut, has a transfer agreement with the University of New Haven that includes a reduction in tuition. It also has transfer agreements with NYU and Wheaton for students graduating in education, and for engineering grads who want to transfer to Fairfield University. – Many community colleges offer excellent support services, including tutoring and other academic help. – Financial Aid can make college affordable: Let’s say a student qualifies for $5,500 from a Pell grant. If tuition is about $3,500, it leaves the student about $2,000 for books and other things. So a student can come to a community college and have tuition paid for, books paid for, and may even have a couple of bucks left at the end of the day. Those are excellent reasons to consider community college. So, how do you know if community college is right for YOU? Besides considering the points I’ve listed, treat it like any other school you’re interested in: visit, sit in on a class, and talk to everyone you can: an admission counselor, an instructor, and students or alum. Ask questions about what you’ll be learning, what kind of help you’ll get if you need it, what time classes are scheduled if that’s an issue for you, what kind of transportation is available if you don’t have a car, etc. Get a good feel for how you’d fit in. Weigh your options. Then you’ll know if community college is right for you.
1) Go the college web site, study all information, which is put on there;
2) Feel it! If all that you’ve read feels right for you, it is your college.
If the atmosphere of that site information (pictures, videos, college attitute to its people) feels right for you, there you go! Congratulation! You’ve found what you were looking for. P.S.: Heart. The answer is there. Follow your heart and you’ll be on right path for sure.
Community colleges are excellent choices for students who are: 1) Undecided about their major and wish to explore at the fraction of the cost needed to attend a 4-year college. You can complete all your lower-division general education and major preparation work and then transfer to obtain your bachelor’s degree. Remember that when you earn your Bachelor in Science for Engineering at UC Berkeley – the degree won’t have on there “attended a community college first” – you’ll be as marketable as someone who entered UCB as a freshman! 2) Needing some transition time between high school and a 4-year college. Some students take a few semesters to fully grasp the rigors of a college curriculum. Community colleges tend to be smaller and less intimidating than a 4 year college and this buys a student more time to prepare for greater independence if they are still living at home. 3) Returning to college for a 2nd career. The community college allows you to re-tool and gain the prerequisites/foundation courses needed to pursue your new career. Know that not all community colleges are the same; each have various strengths and culture. Shop around if you have several in the area to choose from. Visit a community college, speak to the counseling department, the faculty with subjects you are interested in and then decide if financially and emotionally, this is a viable route for you!
Community colleges get by on about one-fifth the amount of money that four-year universities require. Students are foregoing traditional routes to higher education in favor of a more affordable education. Some students who attend community college opt to transfer to four year universities while others attend to acquire specialized skills that may not give them a degree, but certainly train them for necessary roles in society.
Community colleges receive mixed reviews. Under-performing high school students who do not know what else to do commonly attend community colleges but apply the same lack of enthusiasm they showed in high school in community college. These students sometimes give community colleges a bad rap. In fact, student who appreciate small classrooms with more individualized attention, the opportunity to gain an education at a reasonable price and the feasibility of applying with relative ease and escaping the madness of traditional college admissions sing the praises of community colleges.
Until the economy recovers chances are high that enrollment at community colleges will increase and their reputations could transcend many over-priced four year institutions.
It depends on what you want to do as a career. Community and Technical Colleges offer a wide variety of choices that can make nice careers. You definitely want to figure out what you want to do as a career then see what type of training, certification, or degree that is required for that particular career.
Community colleges are a great alternative for students who don’t have the finances or aren’t ready to spend the resources needed for a college that will require you to pay for housing. If finances are tight, it is often a great advantage to stay at home and attend college daily. Community colleges often offer smaller, more intimate educational environments for students who are not ready for the larger university settings. Community colleges can serve as a stepping stone for the student who doesn’t feel ready (academically or socially) for the 4-year school yet wants to continue at the next level. Getting a community degree under one’s belt may give you the confidence for the next step – a college where you’ll earn your undergraduate degree. Community colleges also help you discover where your passions are. Taking a variety of classes may lead you to discover an educational field that you hadn’t considered. When you are ready to pursue your undergraduate degree at a 4-year college or university, you can do the research to find the one that will meet your needs and your interests. You will not be wasting years at a school that doesn’t have your major or interest.
1) Go the college web site, study all information, which is put on there;
2) Feel it! If all that you’ve read feels right for you, it is your college.
If the atmosphere of that site information (pictures, videos, college attitute to its people) feels right for you, there you go! Congratulations! You’ve finally found what you were looking for. P.S.: Heart. The answer is there. Follow your heart and you’ll be on the right path for sure.
The first thing you have to do is visit the college. Check out your options, during this time your most important factor in deciding between a community college and university is, how much of a dedicated student am I, how would I function better – in a small setting or large setting, and finally look at costs.
Community colleges are perfect for so many people, they are gaining students by leaps and bounds! They might be perfect for you if: 1. You want to save thousands of dollars over your first two years, 2. If there’s a career you want to pursue that requires a two-year degree, 3. If you have family obligations that prohibit you from living on an out-of-town campus, 4. You’d prefer to attend college part-time, 5. You have a good job you’d rather not give up in your home town. In the past, two-year colleges (formerly called “junior colleges”) were viewed as “second best.” But all that is changing. If a community college fits your needs, no one will think you’ve settled for something inferior. You might just be admired for making a great decision!
Lot’s of ways. First, find out how many of your classmates are attending the local community college. If you were looking to get a change of pace from your friends in high school, it may be time to look into another school. Also, what type of program are you looking for? In California, the community colleges are a great option for direct transfer into UC/CSU’s as well as many private schools. Basically, follow the program to a T and transfer without a hitch. Are you looking for technical training? Then community colleges will be a better bet for your future career plans in programs such as welding, early childhood credits for working with toddlers or maybe a fire technician. (There are lots of other programs) And of course cost is a main driving force for attending your local campus. If this is paramount to financing your higher education and controlling your student debt then community college is probably the perfect place to begin you.
A community college is probably right for you for a number of reasons. If you don’t feel ready to move out of your parents’ house, spending 1-2 years at a community college could help with the transition to a campus farther away. If your grades weren’t where you wanted them to be in high school, community college can be a great way to to get your grades up to be a more appealing candidate when you apply for your bachelor’s degree. Lastly, community college is a great option to save money for two years as they are often less expensive than 4-year colleges.
Whether community college is right for you depends on the kind of college experience you are looking for and the resources you have to support those goals. With the rising cost of a college education, a community college can be a place where you can get some basic core credits at a comparatively low cost while you are trying to get a better sense of the path you wish to take. If you choose that route check the school’s accreditation status, for it can be an important factor in how the credits or the degree will be treated by future employers or educational institutions. Indeed, tied to this is the question of transferring or applying of the credits you earn. Some community colleges are fully integrated parts of state university system and the credits are easily transferable while it is more problematic in other areas. That is something you want to check in advance. Overall, community college can be a great place to start your college education, but to maximize its value, make sure you know what you are getting.
Short Answer: Community colleges are the bombdiggity. Why would you spend precious tuition dollars on an expensive first year at a fancy college when you can get your basics for a lot less money? (There are, however, some very good reasons why a community college may not be right for you.) Detailed Answer: There are several excellent reasons to attend community college prior to continuing on with your degree. Here are a few: For most students, the first year of college is hyper-organized by theory-immersed student-life staff and academic support specialists. This is because an overwhelming number of students enter college without the academic preparation, maturity, direction, and life and study skills that will help them be successful. In other words, over-protective and over-indulgent parents combined with underfunded, disoriented high schools and sugared up, over-medicated teenagers, has created a monster of a college freshman year – summer orientation through the following May. College staff and faculty spend an enormous percentage of their time bemoaning the fact that they have to teach incoming students how to 1) behave like a civilized adult, 2) not become addicted to alcohol or prescription drugs, 3) manage their time, 4) write well, 5) think critically, 6) navigate the mind-boggling bureaucracy that characterizes any college or university, 7) adopt a personal and academic code of ethics, and 8) not jump off a bridge because a roommate bullied them about their sexuality. If you attend a four-year college your first year, you are paying for all of that. You are paying a great deal of money to learn everything you should have learned in high school. For many students, that is money very, VERY well spent. It gets them out of a home situation that may be abusive and intolerable, and it may give them the opportunity to explore who they are in a deeper way than remaining in a home environment will allow. And those are all good things. But here’s the problem: A great number of students in that position screw up their first year anyway and blow all that money. And there is no way for anyone to tell who is going to be that student who screws up. The top students come in and tank. The weakest students come in and blossom. And absolutely no one can tell in which direction any particular student is going to trend. The only person who MAY know this about you is YOU. And even you will probably be surprised at how well or how poorly you manage the transition. The two years between junior year of high school and the end of the freshman year of college are critical times for maturing and discovering who you are. Why am I talking about this in relation to four-year traditional college vs. community college? Because certain students would do well to remain at home and enter a rigorous college classroom (yes, community college courses can be quite rigorous) without the distraction of the over-scheduled, over-manipulated, simply overwrought social (read: party) and academic environment that characterizes the first year of a four-year college. Aside from all of that, attending a community college for some or all of your early college credits is an insanely smart financial decision. There are so many fundamental core courses at a community college that will transfer into most major institutions, why would you pay huge amounts of money to take them at a four-year college, just to 1) get away from home, and 2) participate in the party? As a college counselor over 15 years, I can say with all honesty, the students who I have always had the most faith in are the ones who present community college courses on their high school or college transfer transcripts. That tells me that the student is probably mature enough to be a safe bet for the four-year community. It also tells me that the student is smart enough to recognize and act on a financially and academically wise decision — which also tells me a lot about maturity. The downside to community college is that your college career can easily get sidetracked — work, your girlfriend gets pregnant, your boyfriend wants you to marry him, your parents keep their (not always healthy) hold on you and continue to encourage you in directions that you don’t want to go. The fact is that sometimes success at community college requires a stronger character than success at a four-year college. So whether you take community college courses in the summers in order to shorten your four-year degree and get into a master’s degree program (which is what counts anymore, anyway), or you complete an associate’s degree in order to transfer it in its entirety and enter college in the junior year, think seriously about the community college option. It may indeed be the right path for you.
What to be a Successful Student at a Community College?
Follow These Top 3 Steps: #3: Spend time on the campus even when you are not going to class. Talk to other students, talk to your professors and folks that work at the college. Make friends and make connections.
#2: Spend time studying on campus so that you create planned study time. #1: It’s called a community college not just because it is in your community, but also because the more you are involved with your campus the more sense of community you will have- and that is the #1 reason why students are happy and successful at a college.
Short Answer: Don’t be a snob. Community colleges are the bombdiggity. Why would you spend precious tuition dollars on an expensive first year at a fancy college when you can get your basics for a lot less money? (There are, however, some very good reasons NOT to attend a community college your first year or two.) Detailed Answer: There are several excellent reasons to attend community college prior to continuing on with your degree. Here are a few: For most students, the first year of college is hyper-organized by theory-immersed student-life staff and academic support specialists. This is because an overwhelming number of students enter college without the academic preparation, maturity, direction, and life and study skills that will help them be successful. In other words, over-protective and over-indulgent parents combined with underfunded, disoriented high schools and sugared up, over-medicated teenagers, has created a monster of a college freshman year – summer orientation through the following May. College staff and faculty spend an enormous percentage of their time bemoaning the fact that they have to teach incoming students how to 1) behave like a civilized adult, 2) not become addicted to alcohol or prescription drugs, 3) manage their time, 4) write well, 5) think critically, 6) navigate the mind-boggling bureaucracy that characterizes any college or university, 7) adopt a personal and academic code of ethics, and 8) not jump off a bridge because a roommate bullied them about their sexuality. If you attend a four-year college your first year, you are paying for all of that. You are paying a great deal of money to learn everything you should have learned in high school. For many students, that is money very, VERY well spent. It gets them out of a home situation that may be abusive and intolerable, and it may give them the opportunity to explore who they are in a deeper way than remaining in a home environment will allow. And those are all good things. But here’s the problem: A great number of students in that position screw up their first year anyway and blow all that money. And there is no way for anyone to tell who is going to be that student who screws up. The top students come in and tank. The weakest students come in and blossom. And absolutely no one can tell in which direction any particular student is going to trend. The only person who MAY know this about you is YOU. And even you will probably be surprised at how well or how poorly you manage the transition. The two years between junior year of high school and the end of the freshman year of college are critical times for maturing and discovering who you are. Why am I talking about this in relation to four-year traditional college vs. community college? Because certain students would do well to remain at home and enter a rigorous college classroom (yes, community college courses can be quite rigorous) without the distraction of the over-scheduled, over-manipulated, simply overwrought social (read: party) and academic environment that characterizes the first year of a four-year college. Aside from all of that, attending a community college for some or all of your early college credits is an insanely smart financial decision. There are so many fundamental core courses at a community college that will transfer into most major institutions, why would you pay huge amounts of money to take them at a four-year college, just to 1) get away from home, and 2) participate in the party? As a college counselor over 15 years, I can say with all honesty, the students who I have always had the most faith in are the ones who present community college courses on their high school or college transfer transcripts. That tells me that the student is probably mature enough to be a safe bet for the four-year community. It also tells me that the student is smart enough to recognize and act on a financially and academically wise decision — which also tells me a lot about maturity. The downside to community college is that your college career can easily get sidetracked — work, your girlfriend gets pregnant, your boyfriend wants you to marry him, your parents keep their (not always healthy) hold on you and continue to encourage you in directions that you don’t want to go. The fact is that sometimes success at community college requires a stronger character than success at a four-year college. So whether you take community college courses in the summers in order to shorten your four-year degree and get into a master’s degree program (which is what counts anymore, anyway), or you complete an associate’s degree in order to transfer it in its entirety and enter college in the junior year, think seriously about the community college option. It may indeed be the right path for you.
There are great advantages to starting off a college career through a community college. Keep in mind that some community colleges are rated higher than others. Community colleges are normally less expensive and on average the core curriculum transfers to major universities. Starting in a community college allows you to work toward a higher education goal even if you have no idea what you want to do yet.
Here are some things to think about when considering a community college: – Cost. Tuition and fee costs at community colleges are much lower than those at a traditional 4 year school. – Transferability. If you are a student who is generally undecided about what they want to major in, community college can be a great option for exploration, as many of the general education requirement courses (required by both community colleges and 4-year institutions) you take at these schools will seamlessly transfer to a 4-year school. This exploration can also be done at a much cheaper rate. However, if a student knows exactly what they want to do and where they will be transferring, it is important to know if specialized major classes (often science and math courses) will transfer in to a 4-year institution and what grade is required. Talk with the specific advisor at each school to make sure you’re signing up for the right classes.
-The “Experience.” Community colleges have vibrant campuses – full of student organizations and clubs, intramural or intercollegiate sports, concerts, field trips, guest lecturers, and many of the other extra-curriculars that make up the “traditional college experience.” However, community colleges do not offer housing and students often have to find their own means of transportation back and forth from classes. The residential experience of a 4-year school can not be replicated by a community college. (It should be noted that community colleges offer all the same academic services of 4-year schools, including tutoring, advising, libraries, academic communities and computer labs.) Community colleges offer a wide range of academic courses that can help any student get started on their path to a college degree at a cheaper rate. These colleges, with their local locations, can also be great choices for students who need to continue working while pursuing their studies, or those wishing to go part-time who have other obligations. Anyone interested in pursuing an Allied Health degree should give a serious look to community colleges, as many of these career fields require just an Associate’s Degree, and many of these programs provide seamless transfer to allied health programs at 4-year schools. But students who wish to have a residential experience, or who are looking for a very specific course of study, may find community colleges too limiting.
1) Go the college web site, study all information, which is put on there;
2) Feel it! If all that you’ve read feels right for you, it is your college.
If the atmosphere of that site information (pictures, videos, college attitude to its people) feels right for you, there you go! Congratulations! You’ve finally found what you were looking for. P.S.: Heart. The answer is there. Follow your heart and you’ll be on the right path for sure.
Community college is becoming a more and more popular option for students, particularly given this economy. Studies have shown that students who attend these colleges receive equally strong educations and equal opportunities to students that begin at more prestigious colleges and universities as long as they work hard and make the most of their experience. In fact, highly selective colleges often recruit transfer students from community colleges.
A community college may be an excellent option for you if your grades or test scores are not quite strong enough to get into a four year school, if you are not quite ready to live away from home, or if you are looking to save money on your first two years of college.
Community colleges are beneficial for most students. With the admissions criteria become more strict, many students are required to attend a community college to complete developmental courses prior to enrolling in a 4 year university. Community colleges are also beneficial for those who do not require developmental courses. The tuition is considerably cheaper and the classes are generally smaller. The community college setting is idea for high school students seeking a gradual transition into college and it is also perfect for the non-traditional student.
A community college can be a good option financially, as tuition rates will be lower, and if it’s in your own community, you may choose to continue living at home with your parents, which will also be an economic benefit. Community college programs are typically for two years, at the end of which time, you would receive an Associates Degree, which may be your ultimate goal. If you intend, however, to transfer to a four-year college/university program after that, it will be important to investigate the ease of transfer between the community college(s) you are considering and the four-year college(s) you would consider transferring to later. You might also want to think about how important the campus culture aspect is to you. Since most community colleges are commuter schools with students living at home, there is sometimes less focus on developing the campus offerings of sports, activities, clubs, etc. Some community colleges are making an effort to address this issue, however, by developing ways to involve their students in campus activities, thus providing a more complete “college experience”. You should give some thought to how important this aspect of your college education will be to you and investigate what is offered at the community college(s) you are considering.
There are a number of factors you might want to consider. People choose community college for very diverse reasons.
#1. Community college provides an education at a cheaper cost than a university or college. If finances are a concern, this is definitely an option.
#2. Community colleges are a place where you can “decide” what your career path may be, if you are unsure. You won’t have to go into great debt figuring out what it is you would like to pursue.
#3. For those high school students who did not always take their education seriously, and therefore do not have the GPA to qualify for scholarships, this is a logical choice. Go to a community college, apply yourself, and at the end of your associate’s degree, hopefully your GPA will be such that you can be eligible for transfer scholarships.
#4. If staying at home with your family is necessary, community college is also a good option. Sometimes personal live necessitate that students live at home to care for parents, siblings, and/or children of their own.
#5. Choose your community college wisely. Make sure it offers the classes/programs you are interested in taking, and talk to someone in the financial aid office about what scholarships are available.
I look at age. I am a guidance counselor where we have an 11th grade exit year, so I am very fond of community colleges. I went to two community colleges before attending Michigan State University. Grades and economics are two important factors along with maturity. The truth of the matter is that young people must be careful and realize they are going to university to improve themselves. Unfortunately we all know someone who has gone to university and have been overcome with a drug or alcohol problem. Does a student like a smaller school? Community colleges are excellent transitional institutes between high school and major universities. Does a student need extra assistance with math or English skills. Community colleges offer an array of tutorial and remedial courses.
Community colleges are an incredibly valuable part of the American higher education system. They truly serve the community at large, and can help you meet your educational goals, whether you’re planning to transfer to a 4-year school, become certified in a trade or professional field, or simply explore your own interests. In these challenging economic times, when more and more people are finding the sticker price for four years of college impossible or unwise to take on, community college can be a cost-effective way to pursue higher education. Community college might be right for you if: * The cost of tuition and expenses for four years at state or private college doesn’t fit your budget, or you are uncomfortable taking on student loan debt. Following a program of coursework that will make you eligible for transfer to a 4-year college as a junior, you can complete the first two years of your education for a tiny fraction of what it might cost you at a state or private school. By attending community college for two years and then transferring, you are essentially cutting your college costs in half. * You’re still exploring your interests or are uncertain if 4-year college is right for you. Community college will give you access to classes in many different disciplines and vocational/professional fields. You might discover a new passion that will help provide you direction in your future choice of a 4-year school. You might find that college isn’t the right path for you, and decide instead to pursue training in a professional or vocational career. * You want to get to work as soon as possible. In two years or less, a community college can prepare you for a variety of career options that could carry higher salaries than some jobs that require undergraduate degrees. * You’re just not ready for college yet. Even though “everybody else is doing it”, there’s no law that says you have to be ready and eager to go to college right after high school. Choosing to take your college journey more slowly (perhaps by exploring classes at a community college) doesn’t mean that you are somehow lagging behind your peers. In fact, it takes more courage and self-awareness to recognize that you’re not quite ready to commit to 4-years of school than it does to leap blindly into college just because all your friends are going. Wherever you are in your college search, it can be smart to keep community college as one of your options. Financially, personally, and professionally, it just might be the best academic decision you could make.
Having taught at a community college for over a decade, I do know what a wonderful opportunity it can be for many students. It is a great option if there are financial and/or personal issues that would not allow you to begin your college career away from home. For some students, it can offer them a chance to bring up their GPA so that they could then transfer to a “top” college. I had one client who after attending her local community college was successfully able to transfer to Cornell University! If you believe that for whatever reason you are not “ready” to go away, then I strongly suggest that you pay a visit to your local community college and see if it would be the “right” beginning for you.
Community college is often the second chance that many students need to make up for a tough high school experience. Other times it is for kids whose families are experiencing tough economic times or who are wary of letting them go away to college. Yet you must be more organized and tough than ever to go. You need to be willing to go to more than one community college to get the right classes you need. You need to get involved in jobs, activities, and service. You need to take classes that fulfill GE and major requirements. You must enroll in classes as soon as possible and get to know some professors. You need to form study groups and be pro-active. You can do it!!!
This could be a tough call as some students might be considered borderline. I would leave this up to the person who is going to PAY for the Four (4) Year extravaganza, because colleges cost $20,000+ a year for a public school and up to $60,000 for certain private schools. So we are talking about buying an education which might cost as much as someone’s house. In today’s economy, we cannot afford to mess this up. If you haven’t shown that you are ready to be a FULL-TIME (40 hour/ week) student
and/or if you just have no idea why college is YOUR next step (other than your buddies/friends are all going), then maybe going to the junior college will be an intermediate step which could help you make a GIANT second step later.
A community college can be a good option financially, as tuition rates will be lower, and if it’s in your own community, you may choose to continue living at home with your parents, which will also be an economic benefit. Community college programs are typically for two years, at the end of which time, you would receive an Associates Degree, which may be your ultimate goal. If you intend, however, to transfer to a four-year college/university program after that, it will be important to investigate the ease of transfer between the community college(s) at which you are looking and the four-year college(s) to which you would consider transferring later. Students planning to complete their educations at four-year institutions often use the two years of community college to meet basic course requirements in English, Mathematics, etc. – courses that would be required at many four-year schools. Try to ascertain the quality of the education you would be receiving at a given community college and how well it would prepare you for later study because, just as with all educational institutions, they aren’t all alike. You might also want to think about how important the campus culture aspect is to you. Since most community colleges are commuter schools with students living at home, there is sometimes less focus on developing the campus offerings of sports, activities, clubs, etc. Some community colleges are making an effort to address this issue, however, by developing ways to involve their students in campus activities, thus providing a more complete “college experience”. You should give some thought to how important this aspect of your college education will be to you and investigate what is offered at the community college(s) you are considering.
It really depends. Community colleges are generally cheaper than all the four-year colleges. But there’s some drawback too. At community college, there are limited courses and if you weren’t sure about your credits and major, you might end up wasting your credits. But community colleges do have lots of smart professors and students- it’s a place where you get to choose whether you want to make the most out of it or just waste it. If you would transfer to an in-state college after the first two years in community college, most of the credits should be transferred.
Whether or not to attend a community college is at times a complex decision for people to make. In most cases, it’s a more simple decision than you might think. For instance, are your family’s finances extremely tight and are you not wanting to take on a lot of student loan debt to get a bachelor’s degree? If so, go to a community college. Are you completely unsure as to whether you want to earn a bachelor’s degree or perhaps become a Power Lineworker? If so, go to a community college. Do you want to live at home in order to be close to family or save on money? If so, go to a community college. Often times students are caught up in some romanticized idea about what college is all about and that they absolutely must have the traditional, four-year, residential college experience. This simply is not the case, as is evidenced by the fact that about half of all undergraduates in the United State attend a community college. If it makes sense to attend a community college rather than a four-year college. then do it. Don’t force or pressure yourself into attending a four-year college. Sincerely, Mike Chapman, Owner
Chapman College Admission Consulting
Community college’s are becoming more popular because of their price. If you were not the most motivated student in high school the best place for you to start is a community college. Community colleges will assist you in your choice of major and what your career goals are for your future. If you didn’t take the right classes in high school for your college major or you didn’t do well in those classes a community college can assist you with getting to the place you want to be.
Frequently students are not encouraged to check to see if the community college might be the appropriate option for “right now”. Parents and educators both might see the community college as only the “fall-back” plan if every other possibility fails. I have always told students to investigate all options when making the college decision. When assessing the different options, selection needs to be greatly influenced by achieving the goal of graduation in a reasonable amount of time. Three things are important to look at. 1) Have you made a selection in terms of what you want to pursue? 2) What is your academic skill level? Are you truly ready to make the leap from a high school program to a challenging university format? If you are academically ready, are you emotionally ready for the challenge? 3) Can you afford the cost of going to a university? 1) Frequently students do not have a strong concept or idea of what area they would like to study and wind up changing their majors a number of times while in college. This type of experimentation can be very costly for students and parents both. Junior college is a good place to test the waters and take classes to see what is available in terms of academic pursuits and career options. 2) If the student’s skill level is not where it should be to succeed at the university level, the junior college is the place to build on those skills. Many colleges and universities do provide remediation, but that remediation is costly in both time and dollars. Students might be prepared academically but not emotionally or sufficiently mature to handle the challenges of balancing a college academic life and the newly gained freedoms of the college world. 3) The financial aspects of college/university are a very important consideration. Frequently colleges will present a financial package to students which includes loans, etc. I have encouraged students to reconsider attending a four-year program if money needs to be borrowed. Save the borrowing for the second half has always been my advice.
Many students (and some parents) automatically eliminate community college as a viable option for after high school. Many times, they eliminate the choice without even know about the benefits involved with community college.
I like community college choice for many reasons, but here are my top three. First of all, the class size as community colleges are much more small than their four-year college counterparts. My average psychology course at the community college that I teach in is about 20 students. The average psychology course at the university is about 100 students. The community college can serve as kind of a security blanket for students not ready to be completely on their own. Community college teachers are kind of a transition between high school teachers and full blown college professors.
The second factor is the overall cost; not just tuition, but fees! For one, three-credit course at the community college, the class fees are about $60. For one, three-credit course at the university, the class fees are over $350. Between tuition plus fees, the difference per class is well over $600.
The last factor is the guaranteed transfer class list available through the community college. Many states have articulation agreements, guaranteeing credits to transfer to 4-year colleges in the state. The local community college has over 150 courses that will guarantee transfer to any 4-year college. They also have a 60+60 degree program where they guarantee the 60 credit associate’s degree will transfer to the four-year school.
Many people who attend community colleges are full time workers and may not have time to be a full time student at a college that’s not close to them. They usually have classes at night targeted just for them. Some students choose community college because they want to transfer to a better college than the ones they were accepted to. Many community colleges offer excellent transfer programs where if you reach a certain GPA within 2 years you are almost guaranteed to be accepted to the top UCs and other prestigious schools. Lastly, community college is significantly cheaper than a lot of other universities, so students may take 2 years of community college then transfer to another university like I mentioned above, and save 2 years of tuition and still get the diploma. Keep in mind that some students experienced frustration when transferring, realizing that some class credits from community colleges are not recognized at another University; they would have to retake the course, which would take longer for them to graduate. So if you have that in mind, make sure to check with counselors on both sides to make sure the classes will transfer without fail.
You know whether or not community college is right for you in the same manner you know whether or not a four year school is right for you. You start by knowing you. Really think about what satisfies you, as a student and as a person. Do you like crowds? Do you value the arts? Are large lecture classes your thing or do you prefer more intimate classroom settings? Does the college have a major in your field of interest? Do they have the athletics, arts or music programs that interest you? Will the school challenge you when challenge is needed. Do you like the social aspect of the school? Are you allowed to park your car on campus, if you have one? Do you have a short attention span? If so, you may not be able to stay in school four+ years without a break. So much goes into selecting a college. Unfortunately, it is not as simple as community college vs university. Take the time you need to really get to know your likes, wants and needs. Once you have done that, you will have the answer to your question. Good luck in finding the right fit.
The initial reason community colleges were created was to serve the population around them. One of the big advantages to a community college is to save money and they allow you to live at home and commute. (Many four year schools actually make it mandatory for freshman to live in the dorms.) Although any post education is a wise decision, saving money while expanding your knowledge is doubly wise! After determining the community college that is near you, research the different programs that are available to determine if it is the best choice for you! Most community colleges have a matriculation program in place with nearby colleges and universities. This allows you to complete the general education requirements at the community college and transfer in as a junior!
I am a product of the community college system and I am aware of what the community college system can do for those who choose to begin their educational career at a community college. The following is my research review on community colleges with references included: History and Mission of the Community College
Higher education in the United States of America has always been held in high esteem. As a nation we stress the importance of education and how it can serve as a tool to help those cross financial and socioeconomic boundaries. Education is seen as the answer to a lot of the challenges and issues that face the United States of America. There is a belief that being educated will allow someone to have the opportunity to experience a better life, and more financial gain throughout his or her lives. This thought process is embedded in children at a young age. There are programs that institutions of higher education (IHE’s) have that are meant to expose children to higher education opportunities. The programs IHE’s have serve students at the K-12 level, but it is more common for programs to start targeting students at the middle school level.
These programs can be self funded by IHE’s or they can be part of the TRIO programs, which are grant-funded programs by the federal government. These TRIO programs are “Federal outreach and student services programs designed to identify and provide services for individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds. TRIO includes eight programs targeted to serve and assist low-income individuals, first-generation college students, and individuals with disabilities to progress through the academic pipeline from middle school to postbaccalaureate programs” (http://www2.ed.gov). TRIO programs start recruiting students at the middle school level in order to provide them, and expose them to as much information as possible in regards to higher education options.
The federal government has deemed the exposure to higher education options as valuable for students, and for the development of our nation. For those students who decide they would like to pursue higher education opportunities they are faced with many options. A student graduating from high school has plenty of higher education options to choose from. There are public and private four-year IHE’s, public, independent, and tribal two-year IHE’s, and there has been an emergence of for-profit or proprietary IHE’s within the last couple of years.
Each institution previously mentioned will be unique it its own way. The types of educational programs they offer, the co-curricular activities offered, and the cost of tuition and fees will vary dramatically by institution. Cost is usually a determining factor for a lot of students, especially first-generation college students, or students with very little knowledge about the college process, or for those looking to be cost efficient in pursuing their higher education endeavors.
As a result, two-year community colleges have seen an increase in their enrollment in the last couple of years due to their open admissions policies and relatively reasonable tuition rates. Typically, community colleges are also situated within the community they serve. This makes it easier for students to attend who want to stay close to home or family. Miller, Pope, & Steinmann (2005), mention that students decide to attend community colleges for two reasons. Deficiency reasons, and defined purposes reasons. When exploring deficiency reasons we typically associate this with students who did not meet the standards for admissions at another IHE or a student who is not “smart” enough to attend a four-year IHE. Unfortunately, this contributes to the negative stereotype of community college students, and does little to help the image of the community college student. Conversely, you have students who attend a community college for a defined purpose. These are students who attend a community college for a specific program and usually have a defined plan of action. They are using the community college as a springboard to further their education. Whatever reason a student decides to attend a community college they will be welcomed by the open admissions policy, and as Roman (2007) notes, “By extending educational opportunity beyond the elites of society for who it was once reserved, community college open doors to employment and higher paying jobs, help build the tax base and develop persons who contribute to the political and local community” (p.19).
To understand what makes the community college system unique we must first seek to understand the history of community colleges and their missions. According to the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC): “Community colleges first emerged in the 20th century when local and national leaders realized a need for a more skilled workforce. The high school-based community college, as first developed at Central High School in Joliet, Ill. was the most successful type of addition. Meanwhile, small, private colleges such as Indiana’s Vincennes University had fashioned an effective model of higher education grounded on the principles of small classes, close student-faculty relations and a program that included both academics and extracurricular activities” (American Association of Community Colleges, 2011). From small humble roots the vision and mission of community colleges is still alive today. The need for a strong and skilled workforce is still an issue our nation faces today and community colleges have the potential to be great contributors in addressing the diverse needs of the nation. Today community colleges serve many purposes and a wide range of learner needs. Community colleges traditionally will offer associate degree options, certificate options, transfer curriculum options, developmental education options, and life long learning options. With all of the offerings at a community college individuals will often find an academic program to meet their needs.
Associate degree options serve as an avenue for students to gain workforce training, and academic preparation for the possibility of transfer or straight to the workforce. Certificate programs of study at the community college level serve as a way for students to complete a “quick” program of study that involves taking fewer courses than those seeking an associate’s degree. A certificate can be obtained within a couple of semesters. Typically, once a student receives a certificate they might opt to test the job market.
Transfer curriculum options at the community college level have become increasingly popular with the rise of tuition at four-year universities. Finney and Kelly (2004) note that the tuition practices are usually narrowly framed into one of the following ways—all which tend to raise tuition levels: Tuition based on selected “peer” institutions, tuition defined as a fixed share of total educational costs, tuition rates established to “back-fill” revenue losses when state appropriations decline. (Finney & Kelly, 2004, p.55). With tuition on the rise at all levels community colleges can serve as a cost effective way for completing credits before students transfer to a four-year university.
Then there are developmental education needs the community college aims to serve. Developmental education at the community college level is becoming more, and more popular due the lack of academic skills that students are coming to community colleges with. Developmental education is meant to help get students up to par with skills that will be necessary for them to be successful in college. Developmental education courses can be challenging, since most students in developmental education courses lack basic fundamental skills needed to be successful in college. Developmental education can be a long tedious process for students to complete depending on their skill levels, which are determined by an assessment that an IHE will require students to take before enrolling in courses. It is estimated that about half of all students in higher education require developmental/remedial education courses (Horn, McCoy, Campbell, & Brock, 2009). This in turn will mean community colleges must make developmental education courses readily available to serve students who might not have college level skills. With a strong developmental education offering it is the hope of the community colleges that students will exit developmental education courses and persist completing a program of student at the community college. To make matters more challenging for community colleges, “as pressures begin to mount concerning the economic rationale for offering developmental courses at four-year institutions, the burden of remediation may fall entirely on community colleges as the sole providers of those programs” (Kolajo, 2004, p. 370). This has the potential to burden community college budgets as they face a possible influx of students who are in need of developmental education.
Lastly, students at four-year IHE’s might find themselves attending a community college. Four-year university students want to transfer to community colleges to enroll in specific courses or for summer programs (Miller, Pope, & Steinmann, 2005) in order to help advance their program of study at their “home” institution. The history and mission of community colleges is unique and will continue to evolve to meet the needs of the community they serve. More unique than the community college system is the students they serve. The demographics of community college students are just as unique as the mission of community colleges.
Demographics, the Community College Student, and First-Generation College Students
Community colleges are designed to meet the needs of students in the communities they serve. There are a total of 1,167 community colleges in the United States of America designed to meet the needs of students. Of those 1,167 community colleges, 993 are public, 143 are independent, and 31 are tribal (AACC, 2011). With a wide range of community colleges available throughout the nation the number of students choosing to attend community colleges continues to grow. As of fall 2008 it is estimated that about 12.4 million students decided to attend a community college. Of those 12. 4 million, 7.4 million attended for credit, and 5 million attended for non-credit (AACC, 2011). In addition, 60% of community college students attend part-time, and the other 40% attend full time (AACC, 2011). A lot of times their student “status” is dictated by other needs, responsibilities, and obligations the students have in their lives. The “other” responsibilities community college students must meet include work. It is estimated 21% of full-time community college students work full-time, 59% of full-time community college student’s work part-time, 40% of part-time student work full-time, and 47% of part-time students work part-time. (AACC, 2011). The community college student of today has to balance a multitude of competing needs while striving to tend to their educational responsibilities.
Community college students are often described as non- traditional, because of their age compared to traditional college students who attend a residential college full-time immediately after high school graduation (Roman, 2007). Community college students vary in age tremendously. The average age of a community college student is 28 years of age, while the median age is 23 (AACC, 2011). The largest age range of students deciding to attend community colleges is the 22-39 demographic. It is estimated that 45% of those students attending community college fall within the ages of 22-39, while 39% are 21 or younger, and lastly 15% are 40 or older (AACC, 2011).
Just as diverse as the age ranges is the ethnic composition of community college students. According to the AACC (2011), 58% of the students attending community colleges are female, while 42% of those attending are male. When it comes to ethnic composition 16% of students attending are considered Hispanic, 13% are considered Black, 6% are considered Asian/Pacific Islander, 1% are considered Native Americans, and 45% are considered Minorities. When we speak about community college students we cannot get away from the fact that a majority of the students who attend community colleges nationwide are the first in their family to do so. These students are referred to as first-generation college students. The AACC (2011) notes that 42% of community college students are the first in their family to attend college and often times these students struggle to navigate the college setting. Often times these are the students who could benefit from a college education, but are not aware of the resources and lack the information to make sound decisions.
First generation college students are often the first in their family to pursue higher education and as Billson and Terry (as cited in Bui, 2002) describe students whose parents have not attended college. “First-generation college students tend to be at a distinct disadvantage with respect to basic knowledge about postsecondary education (e.g., costs and application process), level of family income and support, educational degree expectations and plans, and academic preparation in high school” (Pascarella, Pierson, Wolniak, & Terenzini, 2004, ¶ 1). More research will be essential in understanding how to connect and reach community college students and first-generation college students in order to enhance their success, as well as all other students at the community college level. First-generation college students are likely to be ethnic minorities and come from low socioeconomic backgrounds (Bui, 2002) which seems to fit into the demographics the community colleges serve. In order to serve these students well community college will have to look at the current services they offer, as well as be willing to try new and innovative methods to meet community college student needs.
Community College Student Challenges
Like mentioned previously community colleges students are a very diverse student population and must balance multiple needs. Work commitments, family commitments, and other responsibilities are not unique to community college students. By trying to understand the challenges community college students face higher education professionals can develop services to meet those needs. Miller, Pope, & Steinmann (2005) conducted research in regards to community college student stressors and how they handle the stressors. During their research Miller, Pope, & Steinmann (2005) uncovered students at the community college level face stressors such as striving for academic success, balancing academic and personal life, paying for college, thinking about the future, and finding career direction. These stressors seemed to have themes related to a work/school balance, academic success, a financial theme, and a future orientation theme as students seemed concern about their future career, and their potential for future earnings as a result of their education. In their study these were the top stressors community college students noted which provided a tremendous amount of insight into the lives of community college students.
In addition, other notable college stressors included: making choices about campus involvement, being accepted on campus, finding support for attending college from family, finding support for attending college from friends, and finding transportation to campus were noted as stressors (Miller, Pope, & Steinmann, 2005). These stressors seemed to be related to on campus activity and family support (network stressors). The theme that seemed to emerge in this second set of stressors is the support network of community college students.
The first group of stressors seemed more focus on individual student needs, while the second group of stressors seemed to focus on the support network of the community college student. The way that community college students respond to stressors gives community college professionals insight in regards to how we can better help the community college student population. When dealing with stressors community college students preferred to consult with a family member, use college academic advising services, use college financial aid services, consult with their current professors, and prayer/meditation (Miller, Pope, & Steinmann, 2005). Following closely community college students also utilized college counseling services, exercise, utilized library resources, and consulted with friends (Miller, Pope, & Steinmann, 2005) in order to help cope with stressors. The stressors that students face, and how they respond give community college professionals insight in how to develop services to best serve community college students.
Student Services at the Community College-A Review
Student services are an integral part of a community college setting. A student service is a broad term that encompasses a variety of different services an IHE might offer. Typically, when one thinks of student services they think about counseling/advising, admissions, records, financial aid, and student life departments. Student services is much more than these mentioned departments and includes everything outside of the classroom that a student can access in order to contribute to their academic success, and development. Student services can include learning labs, library services, supplemental instruction, and student orientation functions as well. Student services might vary from institution to institution, but the main goal is to contribute to the overall success of students.
When it comes to student services IHE’s are hopeful the services offered will help increase the retention and persistence of students. When a student starts a course and completes it that helps towards the retention rates. In other words, they have retained the student for the whole course. The bigger picture involves persistence. Meaning, how many students start courses in any give academic term and then persist to the next academic term. This can be of extreme importance for community colleges since institutions are held accountable for retention rates by state governments, which have measures that associate funding with retention rates (Roman, 2007). At the community college level were students academic abilities vary greatly it is very important to have services available to students
A crucial aspect of working with and providing student services for community college students is providing them with as much information as possible before they begin attending. The information dissemination can happen as early the initial recruitment and outreach phase. “Admissions officer might recommend early on that students take a College Success class, proactively take advantage of tutoring and library services, as well as advising and career planning resources” (Roman, 2007, p.21). Since outreach and recruitment staff serve as the initial contact they can begin to provide potential community college students with information they will find useful in the future. This will require that outreach and recruitment staff have immense knowledge of the IHE they are employed by in order to make appropriate recommendations for potential community college students to explore.
Students attending community colleges already face challenges in taking the first steps to attend college. Once they have made the decision to attend the challenge becomes navigating the community college system. While community colleges offer student services to assist all students, not all students might be aware of what is available and what can assist them in their academic journey. The student services community colleges offer are meant to target students at all levels of their educational journey. On a college wide level, student services are accessible to all students. Students have the opportunity to socialize which each other, speak to faculty members, access to counseling/advising services, and utilize learning labs, tutoring, and library services at their convenience.
Out of all of the student services academic advisors and counselors see most students on a college wide level and have the potential to impact students by providing them with information in regards to educational, career, and other school related information that can contribute to the success of community college students. From the initial point of contact with an advisor or counselor students then have the opportunity to develop a more personal relationship, and the advisor or counselor can then serve as an academic guide and someone to “check in” with when the students have questions in regards to academic policies, procedures, and concerns.
The student and counselor/advisor relationship begins on a college wide level, but can then end up being quite a personal relationship if the counselor or advisor takes the time to build rapport and cultivate the relationship. Academic advising and counseling is a unique student service that can enhance student success and development. Academic advising and counseling can address low self-esteem, self-confidence, adjustment issues, and career related concerns that community college students might have (Wilt, 2006).
Although counselors and advisors are made available to all students they can sometimes be difficult to access. Community college students must take the time to familiarize themselves with the campus they are attending. When they become familiar with the college campus they can locate critical student services and can utilize them. In the article “A Success Model for Low-income Students” by Wilt (2006) he mentions that “counselors should meet students on the campus, in person, an engage in off campus outreach programs in the community” (p.68) this can help increase the profile of counselors and advisors at the community college level. While students can see counselors or advisors voluntarily there are some professionals who believe that academic advising has to be prescriptive and intrusive, meaning students who experience academic difficulty should be forced to see counselors or advisors in order to intervene early and help community college students get on the right path (Fowler & Boylan, 2010). This has proven to be effective and helpful for community college students who need a little more attention, but implementation might be hindered due to budgetary constraints, or lack of personnel.
Student services at the community college level are not just limited to counseling and advising services. Many best practices have advocated first year-experience programs, small learning communities, readily accessible learning labs and library services, orientation programs, and co-curricular activities. All of these recommendations encompass a wide range of potential services community colleges can offer that can increase student success and development.
First-year experience programs are meant to provide students with an introduction to the college setting while striving to build a sense of community. At the community college level students go from class to work, and the pattern repeats itself on a daily basis. Community college students rarely interact with each other. When students feel a connection to their college campus studies have shown that students tend to perform better. First-year experience programs allow students to develop relationships with other students and in some cases students take common courses together to allow them to get to know other students. This combination allows students to get involved and feel connected with their campus.
In the article “Increasing Student Success and Retention: A Multidimensional Approach” the authors Fowler and Boylan (2010) note that a multidimensional approach is needed to help students succeed. In addition to a solid counseling/advising program they also offer the idea of a first-year experience program as noted previously to help students succeed. They take the multidimensional approach a couple steps furthers in recognizing that a mandatory orientation, clear student guidelines and expectations, and a solid developmental education curriculum contribute to students overall success.
Orientations are meant to provide the new community college student with an overview of the college and provide them with useful information that can assist them with their educational experience. Orientations are usually students first introduction to the college. Orientations can assist students by making them aware of the services that are available at the college. Orientations are helpful for all students, but this could be very important for first-generation college students (Fowler & Boylan, 2010).
Clear student guidelines and expectations often come in the form of a catalog, schedule of classes, syllabus, and student handbook. While the resources previously listed are examples it is certainly not an exhaustive list of the way community colleges seek to help students understand college policies, procedures, guidelines, and expectations. The more information community college students receive the better informed they will be in regards to college expectations. The initial information dissemination can occur at the orientation level and can continue if students take a “First-Year Transition to College” or “College Success” course during their initial semester of enrollment. This course can help reinforce concepts discussed at the orientation, and then allow the instructor to cover new topics in more depth.
A developmental education curriculum will always be important in the community college setting due to their open admissions policies. Developmental course work is meant to help students reach the levels of proficiency in reading, writing, and math that are necessary for success in college. With a solid developmental education curriculum that supports the students they will hopefully persist and begin taking college level/transferable courses that will count towards their degree or certificate program. At some IHE’s when a student assesses into developmental education courses they are only allowed to take those courses. Fowler and Boylan (2010) note, “ It is often important to enroll students in at least one or two credit bearing courses in order to allow them to feel that they are making progress towards degree or certificate completion” (p.6). When the developmental curriculum is paired with solid advising and counseling services that are prescriptive and developmentally focused, the chance for student success increases greatly and enhances the community colleges retention and persistence rates.
The student services offered at the community college level are meant to assist students with their educational journey. Student services have the potential to play a positive role in a community college students experiences. A solid student services program has the potential to permeate the micro, mezzo, and macro levels. When the student services program can meet the needs of community college students on different levels the student can feel a sense connection to the college. It is not just a student services program that will contribute to the success of community college students. Faculty, staff, and administrators will all play a crucial role. Having an efficient and outstanding student services program is just one part of the equation. In order to ensure student success departments have to remember that they all rely on each other in order to enhance student success.
The community college setting is a very unique and diverse setting that meets the needs of a wide range of learners. This is due to the open admissions policies and the unique programs that are offered at the community college level. Community colleges are often viewed as an afterthought in the field of higher education due to the negative and often uncalled for stereotypes that portray students or those employed there as not equal to their four-year counterparts. With the rising cost of tuition, a down economy, and students looking for workforce/vocational training programs speculation is that enrollment will continue to rise at community colleges nationwide. Community colleges are in a unique situation where they can take the lead in preparing an educated workforce and helping those who start at the community college level transfer to a four-year institution to complete their four-year degree.
While more research is currently being conducted on community colleges more will be needed in the future. There will be a need to do more in depth research on community college students, the reasons they choose to attend a community college, and how they perform once they are in the community college. While community colleges can strive to offer exemplary students services, a solid academic curriculum, and solid co-curricular options we must also take a good look at the community college students themselves.
We have to understand the challenges and issues they face. It will also be important to look at personal traits and characteristics of community college students in addition to our services and programs. While community colleges and all IHE’s can strive to provide the best services for their students, we cannot force or make students utilize them. We can have the best services and programs available, but students have to choose to use them. Much like an individual who purchases a membership to a top of the line fitness club in order to get physically fit and then fails to do so by not utilizing the services at the club. The fitness club provides the equipment, trainers, and courses they need, but if the person does not utilize the resources available to them they will not become physically fit. A better understanding of community college student’s personality traits and characteristics will be needed in order to have a better understanding of the students, and to help our students get “fit.” References
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For many students, attending their local community college can be a wonderful start to their college career. There are many advantages to attending a community college. First of all is cost. Students can save thousands of dollars in tuition, fees, room and board attending community college. Some community colleges do have dorms or housing sponsored by the college. Today’s community colleges resemble their bigger and more well know four year schools. They offer state of the art gyms, media centers, cafeteria’s and more. They also offer options for Associate Degrees and Certificate Programs in fields such as Computer Assisted Drafting and various health careers and more. Secondly students may be able to complete up to two years worth of their basic studies requirements and transfer their courses directly to a four year degree granting institution. Many community colleges have articulation agreements with state and private universities to make the transfer process seamless. They also have counselors who advise students and keep them on track so that they will be able to transfer easily. Finally some students are not ready to make the move to a four year college. They may need to work to earn enough money to pay for a more expensive school. They may want to take classes part time while they work or volunteer. Students might be trying to get a better handle on what it is they want to major in before making a commitment. It is also the case that a student might have missed deadlines or not have been accepted into a four year college and most community colleges have open admissions and may not require test scores. So for all of the above reasons, a community college may be the right step for you on the college path. Francine Schwartz, M.A., LPC, NCC
Founder and President
Pathfinder Counseling LLC
The same way you would know about any other college choice: does it offer the program(s) you want to study? If finances are a major issue, is it the most affordable option? Is it the best next step in your education, as it is for many students who cannot study fulltime, need to be frugal in financing their college education, or are still gathering the credentials they need for a four-year college or university? Can you take courses that would transfer easily if you plan to go on to another college or university? Is there good career counseling as well as academic counseling? Visit. Ask questions.
There are so many variables involved in where a person attends college and that includes community colleges as well as four-year colleges. To get you started, consider how you answer the following five questions when deciding the best place to further your education.
1. Financially, what can I (my parents) afford? Even this question encompasses many factors – Am I living at home and attending college?, Is there a four-year college or state university in my hometown?, Have I submitted a FAFSA for colleges to determine if I am eligible for financial aid that may offset the price tag of a four-year college?
2. Did I struggle to graduate from high school and are my SAT/ACT scores low (or non-existent)? Community college can be an excellent place to gain your academic footing before moving on to a four-year college/university. However, just because the community college doesn’t usually require SAT or ACT for admission, it doesn’t mean that you don’t have to prove yourself. They are generous with admissions but still require some kind of placement evaluation to see if you need remediation in math or English.
3. Would I be better served academically in smaller classes? Many students find they prefer the smaller setting of the community college and can get to know the instructor faster.
4. Am I trying to figure out what to select as a major? Since many colleges require students to complete a set of core courses, no matter what their major, it can be helpful to complete these prerequisites at a community college and save money at the same time. Community colleges also have advisors and career centers that can help give you some direction about majors. However, my main caution is that you select your courses carefully and as soon as you have a major selected and a college destination, be sure to talk with an advisor at the four-year college to be sure your community college hours will transfer – not just as electives but towards your degree requirements! You won’t save money, if your hours don’t align with the new university/college degree requirements.
5. Am I looking for a Bachelor’s degree at this time or certification in a specialized arena? Community colleges continue to expand their programs and many offer excellent two-year degrees and certifications that will give the student exactly what he/she needs to get started in a career. Have you checked them out lately? There are two-year degrees & certifications in areas such as automotive technology, computer networking, cosmetology, jazz/music, audio technology, web/graphic design, programming, electrical, plumbing, air-conditioning/heating, culinary/chef training, and more!
If the college you would be admitted to would not be where you would want to spend 4 years, community college is a better option. Its cheaper, you get a degree after 2 years, and usually all the credits are transferable.
Community college can be the right answer for many students for a variety of reasons! One example might be a student who got off to a slow start in high school and did not perform as well as he/she could have, which ultimately results in a GPA that is below the standards of the four-year colleges he/she has investigated. Attending a community college for a year or two may give this student an opportunity to improve their GPA and transfer to the four-year school that may have been out of reach directly out of high school. Another example of a student who may want to consider community college is a student whose family cannot afford the tuition costs of a public or private four year college – community college is significantly cheaper than nearly all four-year colleges. Most frequently, a student can take the same “core requirements” at a community college for a fraction of the cost of the same courses at a four-year institution.
The optimal way is by spending a few days there staying with an older friend or sibling after having done the campus tour and admissions visit/interview. Ask if you may attend a few classes while you are there which usually needs to be requested in advance (to get the professor’s opinion). All of this also shows interest to the school while finding out if it may be a college community you would enjoy.
The optimal way is by spending a few days on campus after having done the campus tour and admissions visit/interview. Ask if you may attend a few classes while you are there which usually needs to be requested in advance (to get the professor’s opinion). Try to speak with students on campus about their experience and advice.
Whether to attend a community college and transfer after completing an Associate Degree is an option families explore for many reasons. Decisions are always about personal choice and should be based on facts, so let’s take a few minutes to examine the Pros and Cons: Pros
1. The community college system in your State has a 2+2 program, meaning that when you complete your two-year degree, you are promised entry into one of your top three choices of State Universities, with all credits transferable.
2. Your State scholarship will pay 100% of tuition and you live at home, so no food and board expenses for the first two years of your college experience.
3. You have a great P/T job and will be able to keep that while you’re attending the local college.
4. You have family responsibilities or concerns and need to remain “close to home.”
5. You were a “late bloomer” academically in high school and want an opportunity to improve your academic profile and standing to enter the four-year university of your choice. Now let’s look at some of the Cons
1. Focus is important when attending a community college, drop out rates are higher.
2. Community college attracts students through “open enrollment” meaning the only requirement to enter is an application, transcript and fee payment. This can mean that some of the students who attend may not be as focused on their academics and goals as you are. The question to ask yourself here is, “what will I be learning from my peers?”
3. Class sizes are large, parking is a nightmare, and course selection options are snatched up quickly. Will you be able to graduate in two years?
4. Will you be able to enter competitive majors, like nursing, or is there a two year waiting period to get in to that major? What will you be doing in the meantime? Will you even get in?
5. When you’ve completed your two year degree, how many of those credits will transfer to a four-year university, does this mean you’ll need 3 or 4 years more to complete your university degree?
Students considering a community college should consider the same aspects of the college as they would for a four year college. Namely, is the school a good fit academically, socially, and financially. Academically, community colleges usually offer programs that will prepare a student to transfer to a four year college and more technical or job training programs. The social aspect of community colleges is often the weakest. Because students are commuters, they often lack a high level of involvement with the school which leads to a generally lackluster experience and a high attrition rate. Financial concerns often are what make a community college seem best. Tuition is very low, and students usually save on room and board by continuing to live with parents.
I typically say a Community College is a great option for students if you have at least two of the following that apply to you.
1. Finances. Community colleges cost a fraction of four-year schools. If you are financially challenged go to a CC for your first two years for your basic undergrad classes, many of which will be the same as you’d take at a four-year school, and often in smaller class size.
2. Academics. If your GPA and/or test scores are not where you need to be for admissions, especially if you have particular four-year school in mind, then go to a community college to gain credits and raise your GPA to a transfer level. Many community colleges have direct transfer partnerships with nearby four-year schools.
3. Specialty Majors. Many four-year colleges don’t offer specialty degrees (i.e. culinary arts, firefighting, physical therapy) that you can get through an associate’s degree at a CC, preparing you directly for work or to continue on to Bachelor’s in a similar program.
4. Living situation.Not sure if dorm life is for you and ready to be on your own? Do you prefer to stay local to live at home for social or financial reasons? If so a local CC can be a great option.
5. Athletics. Many CCs have fantastic athletic programs, some better than 4-year schools. If you are an athlete not NCAA eligible, not recruited out of high school, or not wanting to ride the bench as a freshman CCs are a great option. You play the first two years, get transfer credits for admissions at 4-year schools, may be seen by four-year schools to help in recruiting, and transfer in with two or three years of eligibility left.
Enroll in a class and try it out. Try to choose a course that will transfer easily to another academic institution. An English course is a good place to begin. Make an appointment with a counselor to discuss matriculation agreements with four year institutions. Attend an open house.
Are you unsure/unwilling to navigate the four-year college search and application process? Are you concerned about not knowing what you want to study? Do your parents teach at a community college?
Does your state offer an incentive program for students with a certain GPA to attend community college and then transfer to a state university?
If you don’t feel like your adequately prepared for a 4 year college or university, or if money is a concern.
Most students would benefit from taking courses through a community college. From a financial standpoint, the lower tuition rate makes community college an extremely attractive option. Taking transferable summer courses at a local community college can enable students to minimize graduation debt levels. Also, many community colleges are incorporating increased academic and student services than in the past. For example, Montgomery College in Maryland offers a highly competitive honors program and merit scholarships.
Community colleges vary from place to place. While some serve as a stepping stone to a four year institution, others offer degrees only available through them. Maybe the student can’t afford the cost of a 4 year school, or needs to be available to help on the home front. Or suppose the student needs to work so they can’t handle a full course load/can only take classes at night. A local 2 year institution may be the best fit. Community colleges are often a good transition between high school and university for the student who hasn’t found their stride. Review level courses, skill building classes, and survey seminars can prepare a student to be successful at the next level of education.
very low retention rate, high drop out percentage.
qualify of education varies from one to another, it is not the best way to save money.
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