Why Choose a Community College?


In compiling your wish list for the perfect college, you decide your priorities include small class sizes, teachers with actual experience in their fields, and the best chance for a high-paying job once you’ve earned your degree. Although your first concern might be how you could possibly afford such an education, you really have nothing to be worried about. The type of school you have just described is not an elite research university. It’s your local community college. Ask anyone who has ever tried to follow a lecture from a 22-year-old teaching assistant in a 400-person auditorium, and they will be able to give you many reasons why you might want to take a look at two year colleges.

It starts in the classroom. Community colleges emphasize intimate learning environments over assembly-line instruction. Community college classes focus on putting knowledge into practice, as opposed to letting students guess the right answer on a multiple-choice quiz. Furthermore, teachers at community colleges are charged with connecting with students rather than putting half their time into research and publishing, which often requires putting a student assistant in charge of the actual teaching. More importantly, instructors are hired directly from the field they teach, giving them the ability to share with you their relevant real-life experience, as well as the ability to help you connect directly with potential employers.

It continues on campus. These schools are called “community” colleges for a reason. At few other institutions of higher education will you be treated so much like a big fish in a small pond as at the community college, where even the college president is often on a first-name basis with many of the students. And while you won’t find massive homecoming ceremonies or elaborate pledge weeks, that doesn’t mean community college life is lacking in excitement. Two year colleges have athletic teams, student organizations, and student governance just like any other school, only on a much more manageable scale. Quality of experience is emphasized over quantity of faces in the crowd.

It ends with the bottom line. Now more than 8 million strong, the growing number of community college enrollees demonstrates that students increasingly demand that they get what they pay for. Only in the two year system of higher education, you actually get more. Community college tuition nationwide averages less than $3,000 per year, a fraction of what you would pay at a university. But sticker cost doesn’t tell the whole story. Because two year schools emphasize experiential learning, you will more easily land a job should you decide to put off a baccalaureate degree. In fact, many community college degree programs, such as nursing and computer science, have placement rates approaching 100 percent each and every year.

For these reasons, even if your goal is to earn a bachelor’s degree, you owe it to yourself to at least visit your local community college and find out about entrance requirements and transfer options. It might just be the wisest choice you ever make.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

This article was written by Brandon Rogers

Brandon Rogers is the author of 10 Things You Gotta Know about Paying for College and 10 Things You Gotta Know about Choosing a College, as well as a contributing writer to six other books about college. His articles have appeared in The Council for Research Development Dispatch and Seattle Weekly. He has more than ten years’ experience as an admissions counselor, financial aid advisor, and instructor at both the community college and university levels.

4 Comments

  1. Karen Kight

    Brandon,
    I have to agree with you, community colleges is certainly the way to go. We have a new Cape Girardeau Partnership for Higher Ed in Cape that partners Three Rivers, Mineral Area and Southeast State. I believe it is appealing to many and will continue to grow.

  2. Joseph ochieng

    Brandon is definitely correct because in a college you can be taught on how to choose majors as oppose in universities where one has to continue with the wrong course leading mostly to confusion

  3. Kevin Lee

    Foothill JC in Los Altos was the the high point of my education ! The counselors helped me put a program together which enabled me to transfer to Santa Clara University without wasting one class ! I cannot, for the life of me, understand why students go into debt to do lower division requirements. The teachers at Foothill all had real world experience in my chosen field and included retired profs from Stanford and Berkeley .

  4. Bob Pottfield

    Having worked at both universities and community colleges, I would caution the writer not to disparage the experience of a 4-year school and make CCs sound “better.” Both experiences of schools are valuable in different ways. If your main intent for attending college is to receive fairly inexpensive training that can lead quickly to a mid-level career, CCs are a good choice. If you view education as a valuable thing in and of itself and, therefore, want a broader and more in-depth educational experience (and, frankly, a better chance at better jobs), then a 4-year degree from a university is the way to go.

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