How do you know if community college is right for you?

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How do you know if community college is right for you?

Daniel Rufner
My Game Plan

Community college is a great match for many students.

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.

Francine Schwartz
Founder/ President Pathfinder Counseling LLC

Community College Can be a Great Option

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

Linda Videll

Location, location, location

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!

Eric Beers, Ph.D.
College and Career Counselor Air Academy High School

Consider community college and keep your options open

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.

Mary Mariani

Is the community college your best choice for right now?

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.

Beth Burnham

It could be for Everyone

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.

Angela Hebert
Director of Admissions Fletcher Technical Community College

How do you know if community college is right for you?

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.

Christine Johnson

How do you know if community college is right for you?

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.

Benjamin Caldarelli
Partner Princeton College Consulting, LLC

How do you know if community college is right for you?

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.

Bill Pruden
Head of Upper School, College Counselor Ravenscroft School

How do you know if community college is right for you?

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.