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Top Reasons to Attend a Community College
Community college is better now than ever, and there are a plethora of reasons to attend. Benefits of community college (CC) include much more than more affordable tuition costs. If you’re not sure what you want to pursue yet, want more time to choose a four-year university, or simply want a more flexible schedule, community college will allow you to do all of the above!
The main benefits of community college:
1. Save money
Perhaps one of the best (and most common) reasons to attend a community college is all the money you can save by starting there. While the average cost of annual tuition at in-state four-year universities was $9,580, out-of-state annual tuition averaged $27,437 per year, and that at private universities averaged a whopping $37,200.
Community college tuition, on the other hand, averages $3,400 annually for in-state students, far less than the cost of an in-state four-year university. Many states (19 of them!) have even made community college free for full-time students who reside in the same state, making it an even better deal than it was before.
If money and financial aid play a big part in choosing a college, we highly recommend checking out your local community college. If you still want to attend a four-year university at some point, you can simply transfer out of community college after a year or two (and to your dream university).
2. Flexible schedule
If you struggled with the rigid schedule and long hours of high school or simply plan on working during college, community college provides you the flexibility to meet all your wants and needs. Compared to four-year universities, community colleges tend to offer far more night and online classes. Those options make it easier to fit other things into your schedule during the day.
3. Smaller classes
In comparison to many four-year universities (with the exception of small, private ones), community colleges tend to have smaller class sizes. This allows students to get more personalized attention and possibly form connections or mentorships with their professors. This can be a positive for those who like to learn at their own pace. Smaller classes allow more time to ask questions and get help when you need it.
4. Quality of professors
Unbeknownst to some, many highly qualified, experienced professors who spent years teaching at impressive four-year universities also teach community college courses. This is often in their later years of teaching, when they would prefer to work less hours, but still want to provide students with their knowledge and expertise.
5. School-life balance
Another great aspect of community college? The school-life balance! What exactly does this mean, though?
School-life balance refers to the ability to successfully juggle your school responsibilities with those in your personal life. This can include taking care of parents, children, or a career. Community college provides such a balance as students can easily enroll part-time (often taking only one or two classes) at a low cost and will not feel out of place doing so. In fact, a vast number of community college students attend part-time! This unique quality of community colleges can make it a great option for parents or older students interested in enrolling in a few classes.
Related: How to get involved on campus
6. Aspects of traditional college
Don’t want to miss out on that traditional college experience? We understand, and so do many community colleges! As of 2018, 28% of public community colleges offered on-campus housing to their students, so that they could establish similar study habits, social lives, and extracurricular involvement to students at four-year universities. This feature found at some community colleges makes the transition to four-year colleges easier. Students will already be adjusted to living away from home and being more involved at their school.
7. Certificates and degrees
Just like four-year universities, community colleges also provide students with a variety of certificates and degrees. Associates Degrees are incredibly common to earn at community colleges, with 865,900 degrees earned in 2020. Certificates are less common (but still impressive) to receive, with nearly 599,397 awarded from community colleges in 2020. These degrees and certificates are awarded in a huge variety of fields. This includes biology, to philosophy, to creative writing (and more!).
Also see: Top certificates to earn
8. Transitional period
One of the best aspects of community college is the transitional aspect of it. As it turns out, one-third of first-year college students transfer out of their four-year universities after their freshman year. This happens for a variety of reasons. Some students sense a lack of opportunities at their current school, feel out of place, or just desire something new.
Instead of immediately going to a four-year university, attending community college can help students think more deeply about what they want from a university. Attending community college gives them the time to properly select a university that would be the best choice for them (all while earning college credit!). Further, the relatively lower cost of community colleges often prevents students from dropping out altogether.
9. Transfer agreements
Last, but certainly not least, are transfer agreements! It is incredibly common for students to transfer out of community college into a four-year university after a year or two. Transfer agreements are there to help such students out. These agreements are contracts between community and public (four-year) colleges. The transfer agreement allows certain students to transfer their CC credits toward earning a bachelor’s degree.
If you’re looking to transfer out of a community college (or transfer from any university), we have some useful resources for you:
- How to transfer colleges: A step-by-step guide
- How to transfer from a community college
- Writing a college transfer essay
And we’re finished! We hope that this guide has been helpful and wish you the best in your studies!
Frequently asked questions
Is community college easier than university?
Not necessarily. Whether or not a community college is easier than university depends on the CC and university being compared. The specific classes you’re enrolled in and how hard you work also impacts your perception of which is easier. For the most part, the content you learn will likely be similar no matter where you’re attending school.
Can I transfer from community college to a four-year university?
Yes! Many students can transfer relatively seamlessly into a four-year university after taking classes at a community college. Many community college credits can be applied towards the general education classes that most students take during their first few years of college. Our article on transferring from community college to a four-year university can help you through the process.
Keep in mind that this process will be easier at some universities than others. State schools and larger universities are generally more flexible with transfer credits, whereas smaller liberal arts schools might be less flexible.