Benefits of Starting at a Community College
Last updated August 24, 2022
There are a variety of options you may be looking into after finishing high school. Perhaps the career pathway you’re interested in requires an associate's degree, or maybe going to a 4-year college/university doesn't seem like the option that is right for you at this moment. Don’t worry! There are a variety of routes to choose from and community college might be the right one for you!
Attending community college is an excellent way to learn, discover your educational interests, and earn a degree or credential. For some, it can be a stepping stone to transfer to a 4-year college/university, but for others it can be a start to an awesome career! No matter the pathway, there are many benefits to attending community college.
Paying for courses at a community college can be much cheaper than at a 4-year university. If you look at the per credit cost, one community college credit can be $100 versus $400 at a public university. Going the community college route could also mean living at home for 2 more years to save money, until you are ready to start your career path! Some states/cities have also made community college free for residents -check out the list here and here. If you’re trying to get a bang for your buck, community college is the way to go!
Smaller class sizes
Most community colleges don't have big lecture halls like universities, and class sizes can average 30 students per class, even for introductory courses. In a university setting, this number can be in the hundreds. At community colleges you won’t be competing with as many students to develop relationships and receive support from your professors.
Get a degree in 2 years
You can get an Associate's degree in as little as two years or a certificate specific to a job such as a Dental Hygienist ($60-70k median salary) or Air Traffic Controller ($100k median salary). Many community colleges also offer apprenticeship programs where you “earn as you learn.” These programs give students the ability to earn the required credential for their field while working in the industry like Ironworkers ($58k median salary) and Pharmacy Technicians ($46-50k median salary). Having a great career doesn't always mean obtaining a bachelor's degree!
Transfer to a 4-year college
If you end up deciding that you do want to attend a 4-year college or university, you can always transfer after 2 years at a community college! This is a terrific option if you aren’t what you want to study after graduating high school, or if you want to cut down on high college costs.
Participate in a Direct Transfer Program
Most states have Direct Transfer agreements (see Michigan for example), which means community and 4-year colleges have an agreement that certain classes will directly transfer and fulfill your prerequisites requirements. So technically, many students are working towards their 4-year degree while at a community college - just saving money in the process! If transfering to a 4-year college is your plan, participating in your community college’s direct transfer program may be right for you. It’s important to work closely with an advisor at your community college and potential 4-year college to ensure your courses will seamlessly transfer.
Experience Campus Life
One misconception about community college is that you’re missing out on campus life like 4-year universities have. Many students are surprised to find out that community colleges have clubs, student government, cultural centers, recreation centers, intramural sports and more to keep students engaged. It will be only a matter of time before you find your niche on campus to keep you entertained and living the college student life!
If you’re thinking about community college as a post-high school option, but have questions or want advice, text #Hello to 33-55-77 for 1:1 help from our college and career advisors!