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Who is Community College a Good Fit For?

If you’re still on the proverbial fence about whether community college is right for you, carve out some time for a visit. It’s the best way to get a feel for the campus vibe. But before you go, be sure you do your homework about the pros and cons:

Pros:  (Maybe we’re just biased, but there are tons)    

  • More affordable than most universities. Financial aid and scholarships are also available to help you write that tuition check without breaking into a cold sweat.
  • More convenient. Because they’re right in your, um, community, this allows you to mooch free room and board off your parents for a few more years if you want. And having home field advantage lets you hit the ground running with your studies.
  • More welcoming. Most have an “open-door” policy, which is another way of saying everyone is welcome. High school dual enrollees, traditional college age students, career changers, and just love-to-learners (you know who you are).
  • More high school friendly. High-school students can take college level classes to reduce future tuition costs and impress college admissions folks. Plus, it’ll give your Mom bragging rights at book club.
  • More flexibility. Offering several different degree and career programs give you lots of choices: One-year or less certificate programs, two-year Associates degrees, and even four-year Bachelors degrees. Pick a degree or program, any degree or program.
  • More access. Guess who winds up teaching many of the classes at 4-year universities? Graduate assistants.  Meanwhile, community college professors teach their own classes. And with extensive office hours for meeting with students, they’re also very accessible.

Cons: (It was tough, but we managed to scrape up a couple.)

  • Not all campuses have dorms, or offer intercollegiate sports or campus clubs and activities. But many do. So be sure to sniff them out.
  • Not all course credits are transferable to other colleges and universities. But most are. Inquiring minds should inquire (do your homework).

Now that you’re well-informed, go forth and talk to your tour guide intelligently.

The stats:

  • To help you decide if a community college is right educational experience for you, here are some facts about America’s community college students according to the American Association of Community Colleges:
  • 44% of all undergraduates attend one of over 1,100 community colleges in the U.S.
  • 25% of current high school seniors will attend community college next year
  • Over 80% of all community college students work at least part-time
  • 29 is the average age of a community college student. 
  • Minorities account for 30% of community college students. 
  • Women account for 58% of community college students
  • Average community college tuition is about $1,518 per year