The economy these days is atrocious and it’s even worse for new college students. The cost to attend a four-year university has gone through the roof, and it’s dangerous to take out student loans because the falling salaries of entry-level jobs will slow down the rate at which these loans are paid off.
I highly recommend community colleges. Many more students are seeing them as viable options these days. They definitely don’t have a lot of the stigma they used to have. Here are some reasons why I recommend attending a community college for the first two years of your undergraduate education:
1. Less expensive. Compare the cost of universities in your area to the cost of nearby community colleges. There’s an enormous difference – and a Pell grant will often pay off the entire cost of a two-year degree.
2. An easier transition. Moving straight on to a four-year college after high school can be a lot to adjust to – and grades are often shoved off to the wayside by the urge to join clubs, have fun, party, make new friends, and other aspects of student life. Community college will give you a slower and easier transition with less distraction from what’s most important: learning and making the grade.
3. Attention. Although brand-name universities brag about the extent of “individualized attention” from professors, they’ve fallen short in my experience. I got much more one-on-one attention from professors at community college. Even though not all of them had doctorate degrees, they were just as knowledgeable, intelligent, and willing to help. Do not think that because community college is relatively inexpensive, you’ll be getting lower-caliber professors.
4. Quality education. Classes at community college are not necessarily less rigorous than they are at a four-year school. A lot depends on how much you’re willing to put into your education, no matter where you go. If you’re not going to put in the effort, college will be a lot harder, whether you’re at a four-year or a two-year school. It is what you make it. You’re in charge of your education.
5. A practical choice. Employers no longer look at your resume, see community college, and think, “Oh, so you weren’t good enough (or smart enough) to get into a four-year school.” On the contrary, they’ll see you as a practical person who was willing to save money and build a network there as well as at your four-year school.
As with many things in life, how well you do at community college depends on your attitude. You get out what you put into it. If you go into community college thinking that it’s going to be high school 2.0, then you’ll have a bit of a problem. Go into community college with your eye on the goal of getting into a four-year school with good grades and extracurriculars under your belt. Don’t go in there thinking, “I’m only going here because I wasn’t good enough (or rich enough) to get into a four-year school.” Keep your eyes on the prize – and remember that if you stay on track and transfer, you’ll have the same four-year degree as someone who spent all four years at university.