After graduating from high school, most students choose to attend a four-year university. However, going to a four-year university directly after high school is not the only option when it comes to pursuing a higher education. Community college can be a great option for students for several reasons.
Financial Benefits of Community College
Lower Tuition Costs
It’s no secret that going to college can cost a lot of money. Even with financial aid and scholarships, going to college can cost a pretty penny. Community college can be a great way for students to get a quality education while saving money.
The average cost of tuition at a public 2-year college is roughly $3,440 per year. This is quite a bit cheaper than the average cost of tuition for a private four-year college, which is about $32,410 per year. Public four-year universities can also cost up to $20,000 a year for some students.
It is not uncommon for students to graduate with up to (or over) $30,000 in debt. Choosing to attend a 2-year college before transferring to a four-year university can be very cost effective for those who are looking to graduate with as little debt as possible.
Community college students are also eligible to apply for and receive the same federal financial aid that 4-year college students apply for. Most federal student aid requires students to be enrolled in about 6 hours (two classes) worth of schooling. This means that even part time students can receive aid to help offset the cost of attending college.
Room and Board
One of the biggest expenses when it comes to college is the cost of living. There is a community college within a reasonable distance of 90% of potential students, making it possible for students to live at home for an extra year or two and save some additional money. Even if you choose to not live at home while attending community college, most 2-year colleges have several locations and offer online classes. This gives students the flexibility to live in an area that is affordable to them without having to worry about how far they are from campus.
Attending a community college gives students greater flexibility when it comes to scheduling. Roughly 60% of students at community colleges attend school part time. Community college gives students the opportunity to work at their own pace and attend one to two classes per week. This allows students to pursue other work and interests while going to school.
Academic Benefits of Community College
In addition to the financial benefits of community college, there are several academic benefits of community college.
Focused Personal Support
The average community college class size is 25-35 students. Smaller class sizes means more opportunity for personalized instruction and academic support. In contrast, the average introductory course at a 4-year college is over 150 students. Many large universities pack hundreds of students into lecture halls for basic general education classes. This means that the only opportunity a student has for personal academic support is if they attend office hours and meet with the instructor one-on-one outside of scheduled class time.
While community colleges do not offer 4-year degrees, many community colleges make it easy for students to transfer credits to other institutions. Students can complete basic education courses at the community college level and then transfer to a four-year university to complete their degree and attend classes more focused on their chosen major. Many students have no idea what they want to major in when they start college. Attending a community college to start and then transferring to a university gives students the chance to complete general education classes without the pressure of deciding on a major right off the bat. As a long as a student meets the transfer requirements, there should be no problems transferring credits from community colleges to four-year colleges.
Another huge benefit of 2-year colleges is the wide range of available class times. Many community colleges offer several classes at night. In addition to night classes, several community colleges also offer online classes. This gives students more flexibility when it comes to their schedule outside of school. It also allows non-traditional students, such as parents, greater opportunity to pursue higher education.
While community college might not be the ideal option for every student, 2-year colleges offer several advantages to many who are looking to pursue a higher education. The academic and cost-saving benefits of attending a community college has caused several students to reconsider committing to a four-year college right after high school.
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