Community Colleges are 2 year Junior Colleges. Students can graduate from these institutions with an associate degree or transfer to a 4 year college to a get a bachelor’s degree.
With the first name being “Community” you would think these colleges would get a little bit more love from the public. We must admit though, when we were in high school, we didn’t view them as highly. Knowing what we know now, we were totally wrong and just misunderstood the services Community Colleges provided. We are going to talk about those services a little bit later, but first we wanted to talk about why there is such a stigma.
Stigma of Community Colleges
Over half of the Community Colleges were founded in the 1960s, and thus the history of these institutions were limited when comparing them to traditional 4 year colleges for Generation X parents. Also, enrollment is less exclusive and endowments are far smaller at Community Colleges than 4 year universities. When you factor history, enrollment, and endowments into this idea of “prestige”, it is no wonder that Community Colleges have a stigma associated with them.
Good News for Community Colleges
The good news is that Generation X’s stigma on Community Colleges has faded and High School students don’t have the same views as their parents. We have provided a recent Gallup Poll that shows Americans across education levels and age ranges view Community Colleges in a positive light:
Due to the rapid increase in tuition at public and private universities, Community Colleges are getting a lot of positive press these days. Community Colleges are a cheap and an effective way to complete required freshman year courses. In other words, to attain an undergraduate degree, you are going to have to take foundation courses, such as math and science courses. At 4 year universities, these courses will cost $300 per credit ($9,000 annual in-state tuition divided by 30 credit hours). On the other hand, if you go to a Community College, your costs go down dramatically to $100 per credit. The majority of the time, Community College credits are fully transferable, but be sure to always check with the university admission’s office on credit transfer eligibility.
There are a variety of scenarios that would make you want to explore Community Colleges, especially when a $200 per credit savings over 1 year (15 credit hours a semester) could equal $6,000 in annual savings! The savings get especially sweet if you add in an additional $6,000 to $10,000 in room and board savings through staying at home. This all affords you the opportunity and time to discover what you want to do with your life without irreparably damaging your wallet. These institutions are also great for non-traditional students who want to go back to school part-time and don’t want to be burdened with the massive cost of a 4 year program.
A big trend with Community Colleges is offering of a 4 year bachelor programs. According to a great article by Inside Higher Ed, 22 states allow community colleges to award bachelor’s degrees, but there seem to be massive lobbying efforts in state legislatures by public, profit and for-profit colleges to prevent this trend. The article provides a great example of the lobbying effort’s outcome:
California’s pilot program — viewed as a breakthrough for the movement — is limited to 15 colleges that may offer at most one bachelor’s degree program each and may not offer degrees offered by any public university.
One big perceived drawback of going to a Community College is they aren’t social. Some people say it is because they lack a dorm environment to make friends and cultivate relationships, but it is important to note that 25% of Community Colleges do provide campus housing to try and provide that 4 year university environment. Other people say it is because they don’t have any clubs, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth. As an example, checkout the breadth of clubs and organizations that the Dallas County Community College District has on its website. Others focus on people’s belief in finding love in college, but in today’s world, online and mobile app dating are too prevalent to count. Services such as Bumble, Hinge, Tinder, Match, and OkCupid are even used by students that go to 4 year universities. All of these perceptions were generated because these avenues either didn’t exist or weren’t as easy to seek out and join in the past.
To put things further in perspective, 33% of students transfer schools or come from a community college a year and it seems it is becoming more the norm than the alternative. Hard to believe? Check it out here!
Additionally we wanted to provide a list of our favorite things about Community Colleges:
- Great way to get a low cost, high value associate degree
- Reduces overall cost of a bachelor degree through transferring after 1 to 2 years from a Community College
- Can be used as a platform to get into more prestigious universities
- Fantastic avenue to get your grades up
- Provides a small classroom for an intimate relationship with professors
High school students don’t always know what the best major is for them (EDUsquared Products can help), and in those cases why spend 70% more per credit at a flagship university? There will always be a set of required classes that must be completed to earn any sort of bachelor degree and completing them at reduced rates helps keep your student debt level in check. Most importantly though, in the end it gives students time to truly prepare to be out on their own.