There are a lot of misconceptions about community college, and it’s well past time to start wiping them out. We’ll say it now: there’s no shame in community college. Community college is value-added, plain and simple. Nearly half of all American college students are in community college, and it’s the number one choice for first-generation students, minority students, and nontraditional-aged, working adult students. Whether you’re saving money to transfer to a university, or earning a straightforward associate’s degree or certification, the advantages of community college are plain to see.
Community College Advantages
The biggest advantage to community college, of course, is the bottom line: you can save thousands on the cost of college tuition when you attend a community college for the first two years. It allows students time to acquire the additional funds needed to finish their education, and it means cutting out a large burden of debt that would haunt them for many years. In addition, the affordability of community college means students have an easier time working their way through college.
In addition, community colleges usually offer schedules that allow for greater flexibility, such as night classes or fully online programs. This can help students to more easily manage their work responsibilities, and it helps those who have children more successfully navigate their various commitments. The lower cost of tuition allows students to explore their interests, and if someone isn’t sure what to major in, it buys him or her time to figure it out while they get prerequisites and general ed out of the way.
Misconceptions About Community College
It’s important to realize that there may be drawbacks to a community college, but it’s entirely possible to use these to your advantage as a student. The misconception that community college is lesser – “It’s just community college, it doesn’t matter” – is actually one of the biggest reasons for low student retention. With discipline and determination, however, you can overcome that negative voice, and working your responsibility muscles can have a life-long positive impact.
There is also a misconception that instructors at community colleges aren’t real professors. It’s true, you may be taught by someone who just graduated college themselves, or you may get a seasoned professional with an impressive resume. Either way, though, there is much to be learned; a new, enthusiastic instructor brings fresh energy to a class, while an old pro with a master’s degree can be every bit the expert as a PhD at a university.
Community College Rankings
Community college rankings can be a valuable part of your research, since they can give you an overall sense of the quality of education you are likely to receive. Rankings aren’t everything, of course, but they will provide information that is worth your consideration. When you’re making a decision, check out:
Retention Rates: Community colleges typically have low retention, but higher-ranking schools generally get to the top because students like being there and stay for the long haul.
Class Sizes: Many learners prefer small classes, where professors can devote more time to individual students; community colleges almost always have big universities beat on this one.
Transfer Rates: If you’re planning to transfer to a college or university, your community college’s transfer rate will show how many students successfully make the jump. Also, make sure that the community college has a transfer articulation agreement with the university you want to attend; it’s not essential, but it makes things a lot easier.
Of course, the main attraction of community college is the “community” part – they’re local, they’re public, and they’re there for the community. Make the most of your community college experience, and when you say “I’m going to community college,” say it with pride!