A community college can be an excellent option for many students who want to go to higher education but are not ready to go to a four-year school for financial, academic, or other reasons.
Community college is an excellent alternative to expand your knowledge at a low cost of tuition.
The community college provides you with various options, so you should take the community college seriously as an essential pillar of a second chance at education.
Community colleges, sometimes called junior colleges or two-year colleges, are two-year public institutions that provide primary post-secondary education.
As claimed by the American Association of Community Colleges, of the 4000 universities in the United States, about 1200, or about 30%, are community colleges.
Community colleges offer a broad scope of degree programs and grant professional certificates, diplomas, and associate degrees in the US.
However, the most significant degree you can earn in community college is the associate degree. These colleges do not offer bachelor’s, master’s, or Ph.D. degrees.
This article will give you an honest assessment of the advantages and disadvantages of attending a community college.
Table of Contents
- Pros of Community College
- 1. Low Tuition Fees
- 2. No Hidden Cost
- 3. No Dormitories
- 4. Availability for Minorities
- 5. Develop Relationships with Teachers
- 6. Flexibility
- 7. Extra Time
- 8. Opportunity to Redeem Yourself
- 9. Friendly Learning Environment
- 10. Preparation for a College Degree
- 11. Best Choice for Immigrants
- 12. Best Alternative for International Students
- 13. Guaranteed Transfer Programs
- 14. Decision-making
- Cons of Community College
- 11 Things you should ask before making a college decision
- Quick Summary (Pros and Cons of Community College)
Pros of Community College
The following benefits of community college will explain why two-year community college students are a better educational option.
1. Low Tuition Fees
A community college costs less than a university. Community college tuition is typically thousands of dollars lower than four-year institutions.
The average tuition fee for a four-year university is $ 24,000 per year for a state and $ 32,000 for a private university.
Higher-level universities tend to have higher tuition fees, with state UCLA for $ 35,000 and private college Harvard for $ 45,000. Therefore, attending a four-year university for four years is no longer possible.
As a result, more and more students are taking classes at community colleges for two-year school and then transferring to four-year colleges.
About 44% of American college students are public community college students. Community college programs, which have a low-cost burden, are attracting attention as an option for attending University.
The method of studying at a two-year community college, then attending a four-year university, and graduating two years later is generally called “2 + 2” (two plus two).
Thus, with a preparatory course at a community college, students can significantly reduce the overall cost of their bachelor’s degree.
2. No Hidden Cost
Many community college students save on hidden costs such as event fees, parking, room, and meals.
Community colleges usually offer limited extracurricular activities, which means college tuition is lower than a four-year institution.
Also, since community colleges are suburban, they tend to be friendlier to students who have to commute to campus. It means that parking is usually cheaper, if not free.
3. No Dormitories
Community colleges don’t force students to live on campus. Although some schools offer this option, many students will choose to live in more affordable off-campus housing.
About 25% (about 250 schools) of community colleges have dormitories, but it is said that only 1% of community college students live on campus.
Recently, community colleges have been willing to diversify students. More and more dormitories are being set up so locals, out-of-state students, and international students can study.
4. Availability for Minorities
Community colleges have the motto “Give college education to anyone who wants,” especially for low-income and racial minorities (non-whites).
It’s common for community colleges to have more minorities than whites, such as blacks and Hispanics.
Especially in states with many Hispanic immigrants from Latin America (California, Texas, Florida), there are many community colleges where minorities and the majority are reversed.
A high percentage of students who do not receive financial support from their parents is also a characteristic of community college students.
Part-time students who attend while working also account for 60% of community college level. Students are also older, with an average age of 28.5.
Since community colleges are universities that anyone can study, they do not select enrollees. It is a so-called open admission system.
5. Develop Relationships with Teachers
Community colleges are traditional colleges that allow you to develop meaningful relationships with your teachers.
Being close to your teachers will not only help you focus on the material, but it will also help you better acknowledge the type of professional work, get personalized attention, and have networking opportunities.
Community colleges have focused on adult education and lifelong education from the beginning. Classes are held in the evenings and weekends to make attendance easier while working.
Four-year colleges in the United States focus on dormitory life. It is the way for four-year university students to devote themselves to classes and extracurricular activities while living in a dormitory and fully immerse themselves in university life.
But that’s not the case at community colleges. Instead of spending 24 hours a day for college credit, you can study only the subjects you need at your own pace while working and raising children.
Recently, online lessons have become popular among busy working adults. For working people, that flexibility is one of the attractions of community colleges.
Community colleges also have the flexibility to focus on training skills with high needs and establish a new curriculum in response to changes in the times and society.
Four-year universities tend to adhere to the original philosophy, but community colleges are not particular about it in that sense.
From computers to flower arrangements, from the skills required for work to the hobbies of seniors, it is the fundamental stance of community colleges to start classes immediately if needed.
Community colleges have more than one aspect, such as civic lectures and cultural schools.
7. Extra Time
Community college gives you extra time that you can spend to profess a job you love.
You can spend it in other productive ways, such as volunteering with an organization you’re passionate about, playing sports, or reading books that interest you.
Campus life might not always be better. Sometimes it is good to take a break from school.
8. Opportunity to Redeem Yourself
If you did poorly in high school, or for some reason you are not ready or unable to go to University, the community college would be perfect for you.
Community colleges offer concurrent matriculation programs, and some offer a co-ed high school and college.
In addition, many students graduate from high school without graduation and go directly to a community college.
So it can be an excellent place for various activities and discovering new interests.
9. Friendly Learning Environment
Students who want a more lively learning environment may also enjoy small class sizes at local colleges. Community college teachers are usually dedicated exclusively to teaching.
It often gives them the time and flexibility to offer academic support outside the classroom to help students achieve their goals.
Class sizes are usually smaller at community colleges. Students can communicate constructively with classmates, play an active role in the classroom, and work closely with professors.
So if you benefit from hands-on and one-on-one learning, a community college can provide you with the perfect environment.
10. Preparation for a College Degree
Community College prepares you for your transition to a four-year college. This may be the most critical finding: community colleges provide excellent preparation for academic success at the University.
Attending a community college will develop and improve the skills you need to earn a bachelor’s degree in your chosen field.
11. Best Choice for Immigrants
Immigrants of war or any other cause usually lack the proper documentation. In such a case, the community college will be the best option for you as it will allow you to study without your documents.
Many community colleges do not verify your social security number or accept that you study with an ITIN or Tax ID.
12. Best Alternative for International Students
Universities in the United States or anywhere other than your home country require international students to have high English language proficiency to keep up with University lectures.
As a result, some students may face problems entering University due to their English language proficiency.
In community colleges, admission standards are low, so admissions are granted even with low English proficiency in many cases.
International students, therefore, can enroll first in community college and transfer to University after earning credits.
13. Guaranteed Transfer Programs
After graduating from a community college, you can, in principle, transfer as a third-year student at a four-year college.
If you are a transfer student between universities in the same state, the credit transfer procedure is smooth, but you can transfer to a university in another state.
Most community colleges have established programs through which you will be guaranteed admission to specific four-year transfer colleges if you maintain a certain level of academic achievement.
It can save you time and stress in the transfer process. Even if you are financially and academically uncertain about attending a four-year university from the beginning, going through a community college will open the way to a four-year degree.
Some public colleges provide transfer scholarships to prospective students based on academic performance as financial aid or free educational costs.
Many students may find themselves displaced during their university studies. Some of them come back, and many don’t.
Attending a community college provides the opportunity to learn what they want and to have enough time to decide which subjects to choose in a 4-year university, preventing students from dropping out of school.
Cons of Community College
While community college can be a better option for many students, you must understand some drawbacks of the community college before enrolling, which are:
The worst part of going to community college is the stigma. There is a historical connotation that community colleges are often considered schools of last resort due to their open admissions policies.
This may not reflect well on students who could not receive admission to a university that offers a wider variety of courses and degree programs.
Its open admissions policies have been the subject of sarcastic humor in the popular media.
2. Lack of College Experience
If college experience is essential to you, then community college is not for you as social life in a community college is not the same as in universities.
In addition, community 2-year colleges may have fewer registration modules for students.
For example, a community college may have only one section available in higher physics, while a university gives you four or five options of its equivalent.
Some lower division equivalent classes required for the race may not be offered.
3. Compatibility Course Problems
One of the disadvantages students face when using a community college education to springboard their transfer to a regular university is that many of the courses are incompatible with the college or university requirements.
Be sure to confirm with the college of your choice that the community college course you plan to take will be compatible with the basic requirements of the higher institution.
In some cases, coursework may be comparable, but not all colleges will allow associate degree graduates to transfer based on work education at a community college.
4. Classes by Part-time Faculty
In Community Colleges, many courses are often taught by part-time faculty with a master’s (or bachelor’s) degree in the field.
The University of Washington Job Center research suggests that community colleges’ reliance on part-time faculty results in lower graduation rates than colleges with a full-time workforce.
According to federal statistics, 42% of community college first-year students take remedial courses, and other studies show that 79% of remedial courses are taught by part-time faculty.
5. Unmotivated Students
Some students are admitted to Community College because they have nowhere to go. An honors program is launched as a pipeline to 4-year bachelor’s degree programs to separate these students from those with a promising future.
Lack of vocational training, technical programs, special programs related to career paths, and unpleasant academic experience might be some reasons community college plans are still rejected by individual students.
6. Not all classes are transferable
There are elective classes that are transferable to 4-year university programs. So make sure you know the Community College course before enrolling.
7. Lack of Job Opportunities
Community college may be a user-friendly and less time-consuming option, but these factors don’t matter in the job market.
Most holders of managerial positions have obtained at least a traditional bachelor’s degree. They look for candidates with a similar profile for a full-time position.
Community college graduates have to deal with hiring managers from different companies. They seek education and skill in a particular field. They also need an aspirant who can fit well into the company culture.
Suppose community college graduates are incredibly proficient in their field or enrolled in a highly specialized field of study; in that case, they get more opportunities than others who apply for jobs with a lot of competition.
11 Things you should ask before making a college decision
- What are my academic goals for my future career?
- Do I have adequate education requirements for college admission?
- Can my finance or student loan pay the annual tuition fee?
- Does your college have good financial aid options?
- Is the cost of college such as annual cost, the average cost of accommodation, and the estimated cost of miscellaneous options at affordable options?
- Does your college support college sports and technical classes?
- What are the core classes of the college?
- Is the college’s class schedule day, morning, or night classes?
- Does the college have online courses if you seek to study from home?
- Does my college provide me with work-study opportunities?
- Are there qualified professors for my four-year program?
Quick Summary (Pros and Cons of Community College)
|Lower tuition fees and lower living cost|
|Opportunity to improve your transcription|
|Easier to work with|
|Anyone can learn (all admission systems regardless of grade)|
|Class size is often small (25-30 students per class, etc.)|
|Can expect higher income than ending with a high school diploma|
|Low budget and lack of libraries, extracurricular activities, and courses|
|Not an option for a 4-year degree in most circumstances.|
|No college life|
|Difficult to stay invested|
|Workloads are lighter at a community college|
|Mainly low-skilled students|
|Almost useless for networking|
|Meager graduation rate|
|Employment rate and income are lower than those with a bachelor’s degree|
From a financial point of view, community college is better than 4-year universities. It can offer you various educational opportunities.
If you prefer a smaller, more personal feel, you may find that community college is for you. However, if you need the encouragement of people your age striving for the same goal, then look at what you need to do to apply to college.
The point is, don’t rule out community college just yet: take a tour of your local community college and see what it has in store for you.
(Last Updated on August 22, 2022)