I’m 17 and I have a microcrush on Hayden Christensen. I know one thing for sure: community colleges are not for me.
I’m 21. I have an A.A. in Liberal Arts from a community college. I attended university only to transfer back to a community college to pursue a second Associate’s degree. My younger, less acquainted self, is faint. But, Experienced Me at the ready, I am here to give you 3 reasons why you should opt for community colleges.
- Curriculum Quality
Largely due to our capitalist college system, community colleges are undervalued and overlooked. Universities profit off of the stigma that community colleges offer lower education because their students are stereotypically lower in financial status. The desired message: You’re paying for the curriculum you’re getting.
Fortunately, this is far from true.
Community colleges’ excellent curriculum is supported by Master or PhD accredited professors put into smaller class sizes. In contrast, university professors often double as researchers. This means that lower level courses, such as the generals or liberals every student must take for their first two years, are taught by graduate students, who teach in auditoriums whilst juggling work of their own. CC teachers, on top of being more qualified, simply have more time and a smaller class size to devote to individualizing lesson plans and clarifying subject understanding.
2. Flexible Class Schedules
Community colleges attune their class schedules according to their students, who they understand to be parents, part or full-time workers, or young adults just out of high school who seriously just want to make snow angels and revel in their escape from the 8-2.
Community college professors understand their students don’t live on campus.
And if a class you desire consistently runs at an inconvenient class time, you have more liberty at a community college to get your voice heard than you would at a university where there is a larger host of overseers to go through. An added bonus? Attendance isn’t mandatory for most community college courses, encouraging self-motivation while allowing a certain amount of independence that isn’t available through university.
Considering the aforementioned rewards of a smaller class size lead by qualified instructors interweaving standard curriculum into strong lesson plans at a time of your convenience, the lower cost of attending a community college ices the cake.
According to the American Association of Community Colleges, students attending 4-year colleges for the 2015-2016 academic year paid, on average, $9,410 whereas students who attended 2-year colleges that same year paid roughly $3,430. Undoubtedly, room and board boost the annual cost of a 4-year college, but that cost is often indispensable. Universities often require students to dorm on campus if they’re freshman or purchase a meal plan if they are dorming regardless of class standing.
A credit by credit contrast shows that universities cost more. This means paying more for classes of equal quality. This means more money is put toward classes that may or may not fulfill a degree. About 80% of college students switch majors at least once. Added pressure weighs on students at 4-year colleges because each switch means greater amounts of money is lost. There is simply more freedom afforded to community college students during their inevitable transition of interests and values that occurs as they graduate high school and enter a total new stage of life: adulthood.
Community colleges are better transition options on all fronts.
- You’ll hone study skills and practices while taking lower level courses.
- You save money by paying less for courses of equal or better value. Not to mention the convenience of these courses that allows you to work, thus investing even more towards your future.
- Were you the same person with the same passions and interests three years ago? Or even one year ago? Consider the leeway community colleges provide to students who will inevitably acquire more life experience, different values, perhaps a brand new set of interests throughout college. Don’t pay extra for indecisions.
Where do universities statistically have community colleges beat? Student culture and campus life.
But, fret not. Transitioning from a community college to a 4-year institution isn’t as difficult as school websites make it seem, especially if you’re applying to universities involved in partnership programs with your community college.
Is a 4-year degree necessary?
Yes, I am playing devil’s advocate.
But, I have a point.
4-year degrees, though proselytized as one of life’s biggest makers or breakers, are proving to be, well, not totally worth it. Weighing the student loan deficit against earning potential is important here. Statistically, some Associate’s Degrees and Certificates do beat Bachelor’s Degrees in earning potential. Think job-specific degrees that pump out Air Traffic Controllers, Radiation Therapists, and Nurses. Comparatively, universities promote knowledge of all kinds even if they fail to yield solid jobs in the long run.
I’m not degrading a Philosophy degree.
Hell, I pursued an English degree for three years!
What am I really saying?