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?

Suzan Reznick
Independent Educational Consultant The College Connection

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

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.

Karen Ekman-Baur
Director of College Counseling Leysin American School

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

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.

Rebecca Joseph
Executive Director & Founder getmetocollege.org

How do you know if community college is right 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!!!

Deb Kalikow Pluck
Founder & Director New Path to College

How do you know if community college is right 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.

Patricia Krahnke
President/Partner Global College Search Associates, LLC

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

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.

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.

Carita Del Valle
Founder Academic Decisions

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

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.

Emily Minty

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

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.

Katie Parks
Former Admissions Counselor

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

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.

Thuy Trang
Counselor Instructor Mission College

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

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!