Is Community College Worth It?

The world has changed a lot since 2010 – even the community colleges. Students can enjoy the benefit of earning an associate degree while exploring their side interests. Not to mention the amount of student debt they save themselves from. Around 12.4 million US students choose to attend a community college over universities for their higher education. Let us know ‘Is Community College Worth It?’.

The world has changed a lot since 2010 – even the community colleges. Students can enjoy the benefit of earning an associate degree while exploring their side interests. Not to mention the amount of student debt they save themselves from. Around 12.4 million US students choose to attend a community college over universities for their higher education. Let us know ‘Is Community College Worth It?

Is Community College Worth It?

To answer your question, yes, community college are worth it. As students can earn an associate degree with a lesser amount of money and even earn extra credits to complete the prerequisites for entering a university. If you are still confused about the decision, read this comprehensive guide which will answer your queries on:

·         What is a Community College?

·         Different types of higher-education

·         Benefits of studying at a Community College

·         Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is Community College?

Community Colleges or Junior Colleges are the educational institutions that enable students to develop their skills and prepare them for university or jobs. The college offers general education to students in subjects such as history, mathematics, science, etc. This kind of education is open to everyone at an affordable cost. Thus, individuals can get a quality education without burdening their parents. Community colleges work great for Individuals who are uncertain about their goals. Various types of courses offered at a Community College include certificate courses, diplomas, and associate degrees. Completing a course enables the students to either transfer to universities for higher education or get entry-level jobs.

Different types of Colleges

Your decision related to higher education greatly influences your long-term plans and career. You must go through all the options before coming to conclusions. After graduating high-school, you typically have four paths to the high-education – Trade School, Technical School, University, and Community Colleges.

Trade School

Trade schools train students to develop their technical and mechanical skills. This helps them gain the knowledge and hands-on experience required to master the skill required for the job. Trade schools can take up anywhere between one to two years to complete. They mainly focus on the hands-on experience of students. The job opportunities after completing the trade school include electrician, carpenter, blacksmith, etc.

Technical School

The technical school also trains students to gain hands-on experience and knowledge in their desired field. The key difference between the trade school and technical school is in the educational curriculum and the duration of the courses. While the former focuses more on practical experience, the latter has more of a theoretical approach. Courses such as health care support, computer technology, and culinary art fall come under technical schooling.

Community College

Community college offers the benefits of both trade and technical school along with a two-year associate degree. The curriculum is general which enables the individuals to broaden their knowledge base. Going to community college can carve out the professions such as software development, information technology, etc.  These jobs pay higher than traditional trade and technical jobs.

University

Universities are entirely different from trade schools and technical schools. Their education curriculum is the broadest and most in-depth. The course duration at universities is a minimum of four years for undergraduates. This can extend up to ten years for advanced educational courses such as Ph.D. Individuals can enroll at a university to earn a degree and become architects, doctors, nurses, businesses, robotics, etc.

Key differences between Community Colleges and Universities

Some key differences between Community Colleges and Universities are as follows:

 Community CollegesUniversities
Cost of studyIn the year 2021-22, public community colleges cost around $5,155 per year for in-state students. (Source: Research.com)The average cost of studying at a University for four years is $35,551 per year.  (Source: Educationdata.org)
Admission pre-requisitesAdmissions are almost open to everyone who has finished high school. The admission procedure is more lenient as compared to that of the university.The Admission team is meticulous in choosing the students. The admission process is very rigorous as universities try to create a diverse environment with smart students.
Class SizeStudents enrolled in Community Colleges are lesser as compared to Universities. This offers a better faculty-to-student ratio and assists in one-on-one interaction. The average class size can range from 25-35.Students enrolled in the Universities are more. This results in larger class sizes and makes one-on-one interaction difficult for the students and faculties. The average class size can range from 150-300.
Programs offeredCommunity Colleges typically offer an associate’s degree along with some diploma and certificate courses. The associate degree takes two years to complete. When compared to universities, Community Colleges offer lesser courses.Universities offer several advanced courses such as undergraduate for four years, post-graduate for 2 years, and Ph.D. which can take 5-10 years to complete.
AccommodationCommunity Colleges don’t offer housing facilities to the students. Individuals must commute from their houses to the college every day.Universities typically offer on-campus dormitories and apartments to students. Students also enjoy the benefits of 3-time meals.

Benefits of studying at a Community College

If you recently finished high school, there are plenty of reasons to choose a Community College. Some of the benefits of studying at Junior College are as follows:

1. Lower Education Cost

According to a report, public community colleges cost around $5,155 per the academic year 2021-22. However, when it comes to studying for an undergraduate degree, the program can cost an average of $25,707 per year. Most students choose to earn an associate degree in community college and later transfer to the university. It helps in lowering the financial burden. On top of this, Junior Colleges also provide generous financial aid and scholarships to students. 

2. Easy Admission process

The Junior Colleges aim to uplift the economic conditions of the locality. It has contributed to the open admissions policy, where almost everyone who applies to the college gets accepted. Admission is offered to anyone who has finished high-school. Also, the acceptance procedures are more lenient as compared to that of the university. Students can be accepted even with a GPA as low as 2.0 or 2.5 GPA.

3. Flexible Schedules

According to AACC, the average age of a community college student is 27 years old. The college recognizes that students must manage work or have family obligations alongside their studies. This factor has shaped a flexible curriculum in the colleges which can come in the form of night classes and asynchronous course works. The flexible schedule also benefits students who want to take up extra college-level courses during the weekends.

4. Financial Aids

This may come off as a surprise but financial aids are not merely for University students, but for Junior College students too. In most cases, financial aid is more easily dispersed to Community College students as compared to University students. Moreover, the students are also welcome to apply for various grants and scholarships. When you top this fact with the cheaper study cost at the Junior College, you will have a solid case in your favor.  

5. Easy to transfer to Universities

More and more students are now opting to spend their first two years in community college and later transfer their credits to the university. This way, students only need to pay a tenth of their tuition fees for the first two years and save an immense amount of money in the process. In addition to this, Community Colleges offer an articulation agreement that renders the transfer process for higher education easier.

6. Better faculty-to-student ratio

Contrary to the Universities, the average class size of Community Colleges is very small. There can be 30 students in the class, if not less. Combine this with highly qualified teachers and one can get the most out of their lectures. The one-on-one interaction leaves little to no room for doubts. Personalized attention also ensures that no student lags in the class. This helps students cover their course material more quickly.

7. Chance for Non-Traditional students

Community Colleges were established to provide quality education to people who were deprived of it for one or the other reason. The students that come from non-traditional education pathways can include minorities who have poor English speaking skills, full-time employees, parents with young children, etc. The flexible curriculum at the junior college provides these underprivileged people a second chance at life.

Conclusion

Community Colleges are well worth the time and money. More and more US students are opting to first earn an associate degree and later transfer to a university. This way, the students only need to pay one-tenth of the total tuition fees at the university. If you have completed your secondary education, choosing a Community College would be worth it.

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

1. Why are Community Colleges cheap?

Community Colleges are funded by the State and Federal government for Americans who did not have the opportunity to get an education. This is the reason why Junior Colleges are cheaper as compared to Universities.

2. Can I boost my high-school GPA by performing well in a Community College?

Students cannot raise their high-school and university GPAs by performing academically well in the Community College. However, the GPA that they earn during their course duration at the college can be transferred to a University.

3. What are the states with the best community college?

Some US states with the best Community Colleges include – North Carolina, Wyoming, Kansas, Mississippi, and Nebraska.