Community Colleges- An Affordable Alternative

Posted in Personal Finance by Kevin | Tags: ,

Community colleges are reporting spikes in enrollment seen never before as public and private 4 year schools hike up tuition to deal with current economic problems and money shortages. Some cities have seen an increase of almost 10% since last years enrollment, an astounding increase, 5-6 times higher than regular years. Another alternative to the traditional four year programs includes a 3 year program offered at some colleges, enabling students and parents to deal with fiscal problems. A full year of tuition can cost some $40,000 dollars and can make or break a family’s budget.

Consider the graph below and compare it with the average annual fee of $2,300 for community colleges:


In spite of this, many parents and students are often reluctant to consider community colleges because of a “second class” education and a shallow understanding of how these colleges work. However, most of these programs offer a great education at an affordable price and a lot of other advantages. These are some great advantages that cement community college enrollment during a recession:

Ability to transfer credits to a 4 year
If you do your best during your 2 years at a community college, you can always transfer your credits and move to a four year school as a junior. Not only will you have saved a great deal of money, but you will continue like everyone else at a regular undergraduate program and get your Bachelor’s degree. As schools increase their transfer quotas, more students attend CC’s.


Easier transition from high school
Some schools have dismal freshman retention rates because of students’ inability to adapt to the fast pace of universities, the lax environment where there is no teacher forcing you to go to class, and other academic reasons. By enrolling in a community college first, students can get acquainted to the college environment and build on their knowledge before joining their peers a a 4-year. Research strongly suggests that students who enter community college with the goal of transferring actually have higher graduation rates than students who begin their freshman year at a traditional campus.

Vocational Skills Developed
Community colleges offer tons of programs to develop vocational skills and land a job without spending four years of your life at a college campus. Some colleges offer the chance to pair up with industry employers right after graduation and go straight into the work force.

Smaller Class Sizes
This happens to be the most overlooked aspect of a community college education. With GE classes in four years larger than their basketball game programs (UC-Berkeley has 900 students in some biology and math classes), student -teacher interaction is very limited. The same class in a community college might have less than 50 students. This allows for a more friendly atmosphere to develop, a great friendship with your instructor, and the added benefit of being able to stand out in your classroom due to more one-on-one attention. This, in turn, leads to higher grades due to a higher level of understanding.

A Flexible Schedule
Community colleges cater to students with working lifestyles. They offer the ability to continue your education at a rate that makes sense. Also, most classes rarely fill up, so you don’t have to rush to register for a class like in a four year school. In a tough economy, this allows students to not only save on tuition costs, but find a job and support ther families.

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