Considering starting out your college career at a community college? You wouldn’t be the only one. In the United States today, more than 12 million students take classes at community college annually. That’s about half of all undergrad students in the country! Community colleges are becoming popular among college students everywhere for a lot of reasons. If you’re considering attending a community college, it’s important to research the pros and cons before deciding if community college is the right path for you.
Pros of Community Colleges
We’ll go ahead and start with the good news first. There’s a lot of it! Here are some of the pros of attending a community college:
They’re generally less expensive
Most college students and future college students are aware that college is expensive, and costs are ever-rising. According to Vittana.org, students who choose to complete their first two years of college at a community college can typically save 50% or more on their educational expenses than students who choose to complete all four years of college at a public in-state university. Students who choose to complete their first two years of college at a community college instead of completing all four years at a private university can save up to 90% in educational expenses!
According to savingforcollege.com, during the 2014-2015 school year students paid about $3,347 in tuition and fees at local community colleges, where students who attended a four year public university paid around $9,139. Talk about saving some cash!
Students may save more money in some states than others when it comes to community college. You can check out a list of how much money can be saved per state here!
They offer more flexible schedules
It can be crazy difficult to try to balance work, hobbies, social lives and other aspects of life with college. Community colleges offer an advantage that many other institutions don’t, which is additional night and weekend classes. That way, students who have other obligations like work, families, and anything else have more options to pursue an education and go to class. At a lot of community colleges, it’s easier to build a schedule that works for you.
Class sizes are smaller
Class sizes in community colleges are comprised of 20 students on average. With classes this size, professors are typically much easier to access and have more time to engage with students individually. Students can typically also get more personalized instruction in this type of class format. Smaller class sizes can also allow for community colleges to implement new programs to meet the needs of their students.
Community colleges are transitional
Students who attend community colleges can choose to pursue a two-year degree or certificate program to launch them into a career and the workforce more quickly. Alternatively, many students who attend community colleges transfer to a four year public university or institution after completing their studies at the community college. So, no matter which direction you decide to take your college career, community colleges can offer a transition to a lot of different paths.
Cons of Community Colleges
It’s no secret that different types of colleges don’t work for everyone all the time. That can also be the case for community colleges, where there are a few cons:
They have a more limited curriculum
Community colleges typically only offer two-year degree programs or Associate’s degrees. So, if you’re interested in participating in a four-year program or earning a Bachelor’s degree, you’ll eventually have to transfer to continue your education. Community colleges also tend to have more limited degree options, and may only offer a handful of degrees compared to other institutions and universities.
There’s not really a “traditional college experience”
Community colleges have a lot of activities and programs so that students can be involved, but “campus life” at community colleges is a lot different than it is at four year public universities and other institutions. Starting out at a community college doesn’t come with living on campus in a dorm, eating in a dining hall, and the other things that may come with starting out at a university. Vittana.org puts it pretty well: “Most students at a community college are fitting their education around their life instead of having school be their life.”
Not all classes are transferable
If you’re attending a community college with a goal in mind to transfer to a four-year institution, it’s important to know that not all classes are transferable! It’s extremely important to meet with an academic advisor to make sure the program you enter or classes you’re taking will transfer to the institution you’re planning on going to after you complete your studies at the community college. Figuring this out beforehand will help save time and money!
Some classes may not prepare students for a four year college
A lot of classes at community colleges tend to have a lighter workload than those of four-year colleges or institutions. This can lead to students feeling like they aren’t prepared or like they’re a little behind if they end up transferring to a four year institution after attending community college.
Community college is a really popular option for students everywhere. However, like with every educational choice, it’s important to research every option to know what’s right for you! Remember these pros and cons of attending community college when considering one:
- They’re generally less expensive
- They offer more flexible schedules
- Class sizes are smaller
- Community colleges are transitional
- They have a more limited curriculum
- There’s not really a “traditional college experience”
- Not all classes are transferable
- Some classes may not prepare students for a four-year institution
Keep this information in mind as you continue to pursue your education!