DISCOVER THE BETTER FIT FOR YOU WITH THESE 4 QUESTIONS
Not every community college experience is like an episode of the NBC hit show Community — and we should all be thankful for that. But much like the show, community college can be a fit for a variety of different types of people. There have even been many notable individuals that have walked the community halls, including Tom Hanks, Frank Gehry, Jackie Robinson, Walt Disney, Sarah Palin, and George Lucas.
And you could follow in their steps — or lead your own way.
It’s your choice. You could spend the next two years of your life either racing up the ladder to your high-hopes future or find yourself stuck on the ground with an emptying bank account and an even emptier idea of what your life has in store in four years.
It doesn’t make sense for everyone to go straight to a 4-year university, nor does it make sense for everyone to go to a community college. And though a community college is sometimes given a bad rap, the education does measure up — and depending on your particular needs, it can even surpass the value of a public or private 4-year university.
Consider these four questions when deciding whether or not you should take two years at a community college or go straight to a 4-year university.
1. Does the move from classes of 20 to lecture of halls of 100s send your knee jerking?
If it does, community college might be a better transition for you. Classes typically range in sizes from 30 to 60 students. This means there are more opportunities for meaningful discussion, feedback, and learning – plus the chance to make a connection with your professor. And community college professors are qualified with a minimum of a masters degree and sometimes a PhD. Though it’s not true with all 4-year professors, they’ve often been known to let TAs lead their classes while they focus more on research and getting work published. In community college classes, the instructor is invested in your education, and the focus is put on the class materials. If you’re ready to jump into classes, literally becoming lost in a mass of students, take the plunge. Otherwise, community college is here for you with class sizes that let you can stand out.
2. Are you ready to see your bank dollars decrease or your debt increase?
We hope you didn’t answer with, what dollars? Regardless of whether your parents plan to help or if you’re fronting the cost of school all on your own, your bank account will take a hit.With community college, though, the drop is a lot less substantial while still preparing you adequately for a future career. Just compare the average costs for two years of school below.
Two years community college = $7,000
Two years public university = $18,000
Two years private institution = $60,000
Unless you qualify for scholarships, grants, or are preparing to take out a huge loan, getting your general education credits done for at least half the cost of your other options seems like the right choice.
3. So … what are you going to be when you grow up?
If you’re like many of your peers, you may have just stuck out your palms and gasped a “Whoa, whoa, whoa. I just figured out what dress I want to wear for prom. Give me a sec.” Not knowing is perfectly okay. Some fifty-year-olds still question what they want to do with their lives. But it makes more sense to explore your interests at a school you can afford, while checking off the general eds you will need for a 4-year degree, if you decide to go down that route. And if what you want to be is specialized enough — like a Dental Hygienist, registered Nurse, Technician, etc? Odds are high that there’s a 2-year program at a community college just for you.
4. Do you plan to work during school? Do you need flexibility? Do you want to keep living your life while learning?
If you said a lot of yeses, then community college is the winner. Though campus life found at 4-year universities is an experience all on its own, community college provides unbeatable flexibility. With day, night, and even online classes, students can have jobs, internships, and a family all while working hard to reach their goals. Sure, reading on grassy campuses and greek life seem tempting now, but the paycheck that’ll keep you on your feet before your dream job will be much more rewarding for later in your life.
All in all, community college is the right match for a person who’s looking to save a lot of money, explore their options, and keep their lifestyle flexible. If this is you, don’t hesitate to check out a city college that transfers credits easily to the university you want to end up at — or one that offers a 2-year program that’ll get you where you need to be.