I used to think community college was the embarrassing choice. Now, I know it’s a smart idea that can save families thousands of dollars in expenses while still helping kids reach their goals.
Hey mama! It’s midsummer and back-to-school season is right around the corner. I love it. It brings back memories of colorful folders, fresh notebooks, and new outfits I couldn’t wait to wear.
Now that I’m the mom, I’ll soon get to be the buyer of those folders, notebooks, and clothing. When I think even further into the future, I realize I’ll also be the one financing college.
I have to time to prepare myself but if your kid is heading to college in the near future, this post is for you. This is everything I’d tell a friend about reasons they should not hesitate to encourage their kids to go to a community college.
- 21 Clever and Practical Ways to Save Money
- 15 Things I Quit Buying to Save Money Every Month
- 10 Tips To Kick Start Your Debt-Free Journey Today
8 SMART REASONS TO CHOSE COMMUNITY COLLEGE
1. TUITION & FEES ARE MORE AFFORDABLE
I didn’t go to community college because I didn’t get into any universities. I got accepted to a few universities and each one provided me a financial package that had to be refused. While there were grants and scholarships included, each left me with a large financial burden that would require me to take out huge student loans. This wasn’t the case for the community college.
At the community college, my financial aid package covered my tuition and fees without loans. Occasionally, I was left paying out-of-pocket for my own books but comparatively that was a small price to pay for the education I received. When I graduated from community college, I did so with no student loan debt.
2. THERE ARE NO ROOM & BOARD COSTS
While you can attend community college anywhere, I attended community college in my local city. It was less than ten miles away from my home and I was able to continue living at home rent free (thanks to my mom).
Room and board or living off campus, at university, can cost thousands each semester (I did eventually end up doing both and paying the costs).
3. DIVERSITY IS UNMATCHED
Unlike many universities, community colleges are filled with people from everywhere in different stages of life.
What do I mean?
The people I met were young and old. Some were back in school working on second and third careers. Some were moms that finally got their chance to pursue an education. Others were immigrants and refugees getting a foothold in North American education.
There were people from everywhere and the richness of diversity in the classroom made community college an excellent learning experience.
4. THE CLASSES ARE CHALLENGING
Some people believe that community college classes are less challenging than university classes. That wasn’t my experience.
Much of the time, just like at university, the class difficulty was based on the ideals and expectations of the professors. And surprise, surprise, many professors working at community colleges have worked in the university setting.
While class difficulty is subjective (I will always think calculus and physics is difficult), I’ve taken equally challenging courses at community colleges and university. I have also had classes in both settings that I found to be cake walks.
5. SMALLER CLASS SIZES
My undergraduate university courses were often auditorium style. There were hundreds of us in one class. This makes it extremely difficult to get to know the teacher or form meaningful relationships with each other. Not to mention trying to stand out and (eventually) get a recommendation from a teacher in this setting isn’t ideal.
At the community college, all my classes were small. Getting to know my classmates and teachers by name was easier but I will warn if you like to disappear in classes, it’s much harder to do in this setting. 😉
The professor will know when you are slipping.
6. IT IS A LOW COMMITMENT STEP
When I graduated from high school I was seventeen. I didn’t know what I didn’t know and I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. I had lots of ideas but no deeply passionate agenda to be a doctor, or a lawyer, or a nurse.
My time spent learning a second language at the community college helped me gain an interest new cultures. And that led me to AmeriCorps and eventually teaching abroad in the Prague, Czech Republic.
Also, going to community college can help prepare you for university. It’s a great way to get your feet wet, taking college courses and being responsible for yourself, without a four year commitment.
If you decide college isn’t for you, you haven’t wasted absurd amounts of money at a university.
7. SKILLED TRADES ARE TAUGHT
Community colleges offer the opportunity to learn skilled trades that can lead to employment within a few years. That means if you have no plans to ever attend university, you still have skills that can be used to earn an income.
University isn’t for everyone; however, if you can offer a skill that people will pay for, you can still be highly successful.
I am fully in the “you don’t need a degree, you need a skill and an education to be successful” camp!
8. DEGREE CREDITS CAN BE TRANSFERRED
When I attended community college, I pursued the college transfer program. I always had the intention to moving on to a four-year university. In my state, completion of the AA or AS in the university transfer program meant that ALL my credits would transfer and my general core requirements at the in-state colleges would be fulfilled.
How is this helpful?
Well, sometimes colleges pick and choose which courses will be accepted for transfer. With this program, ALL my credits transfers unchallenged and not having to take general education courses at university saved me money and freed up my schedule enough to let me double major, once I transferred.
So, while my peers were paying hundreds for general courses that weren’t even in their majors, I was taking and paying for classes in my majors (biology, chemistry, and psychology).
OVERLOOKING COMMUNITY COLLEGES MAY BE A MISTAKE
Community colleges often get overlooked but they offer tremendous value and opportunity. I started my post-secondary education at a community college and it was the best thing I could have done financially.
Your high school student may be thinking about what others will think of them for choosing a community college. I had these same thoughts initially and even felt embarrassed telling people. In my mind, at the time, community college was for kids who didn’t get in to the good colleges. Plus, it meant I had to stay at home longer.
While I wasn’t thrilled to still be living at home, in hindsight, my two years at the community college was the best educational decision I could have made.
Ultimately you have to do what is best for you and your family.
Just know success is not determined by what college you attend for the first few years. Success is a much bigger formula.
I’ve watched young adults rush off to university just to learn it wasn’t for them or to fail out after accumulating massive amounts of debts.
My whole education timeline was pursued in baby steps (community college-university-graduate school) and I’m proud to share it started at a community college.
No matter where you are sending your kid, let me just say “Good job & good luck”!
WHAT DO YOU THINK? WOULD YOU ENCOURAGE YOUR CHILD TO ATTEND A COMMUNITY COLLEGE?