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