Community colleges adorn hidden perks and benefits before a student’s eyes. Like a magician with perfectly mastered magic tricks, community college students arrive at four-year institutions with skills straight-to-university students may lack. Community college allows for an easier transition to higher education. However, the stigma surrounding community college disheartens students from taking advantage of the never-ending opportunities it offers. The first step to debunking community college stigma lies in learning the facts about its endless advantages.
Read on to see how the superpowers community college students obtain through their two-year experience positively benefit them in the long run!
1. Save Money
As every human being living in the United States knows, four-year colleges prove notoriously expensive. Not every student can pay $20,000 or more for four consecutive years. Meanwhile, community college tuition averages at only around $1,600 for in-state students. “Community colleges can provide students with a chance to save money – and possibly avoid or reduce student loan debt – with low tuition costs as well as several programs available for tuition assistance based on income level or other factors. Plus, with the increasing number of transfer agreements and programs between the community colleges and four-year institutions, it creates a smoother, more affordable path for students seeking degrees,” Los Positas College librarian Angela Amaya said. Not to mention, most students remain at home during their community college years, allowing them to stay under the financial wing of their guardians.
2. Individualized InstructionA professor makes or breaks a student’s learning experience. Luckily, you can expect a higher chance of receiving a more personalized academic experience in community college classes than at the university level. “Individualized instruction is rooted in teaching practice. There is a major difference between community college instructors and university instructors. The difference is that community college instructors’ main focus is teaching and students. At the university level, the main focus of professors is research and their own writing. They have the teaching position so they can use that position to disseminate their research and expertise in a particular subject,” Los Positas College English professor Michelle Gonzales said. And receiving individual attention from community college professors allows students to comprehend materials better as well
3. Academic Resources
Community college programs prove highly beneficial to struggling students. Personalized services like writing centers, mental health programs, transfer preparation organizations, and professional workshops generate a supportive community for students. Although universities also host academic and social programs, some students do not get the chance to take advantage of them due to large campus population sizes. On the other hand, the smaller population size at community colleges allows for easy access to academic resources and programs.
4. Approachable Professors
Often, university professors act as an intimidating, highly regarded authority figure rather than an educator. In contrast, community college professors hold a much less severe reputation and tend to create a more collaborative experience. “Community college brings a focus on students that is unlike the university system. We give more individualized attention, provide more accessible office hours. Professors also work in resources like writing centers, coordinate programs, and advise student clubs. Students have access to instructions they might not often have at the university level,” Gonzales said. Community college professors get actively involved in academic outreach programs and extracurriculars, allowing students to receive more face-to-face time with the person who grades their assignments. Collaborating and asking for a professor’s help proves vital, especially during finals season.
5. Low-Stakes Environment
The majority of 17 to 18-year-olds do not know what they want to spend four years studying. Upon entering a four-year institution, the pressure of succeeding seems daunting. However, community colleges create a flexible environment. “Community colleges also provide students with the opportunity to explore their academic and personal interests in a lower-stakes environment,” Amaya said. The fast-paced environment of universities may oppress students from discovering their passions. Spending time figuring out what you want to do without the financial and societal pressures allows for a more thoughtful approach to choosing a career path.
6. Transfer Agreements
Most community colleges secure transfer course agreements with four-year universities, which means that community college students receive transfer academic credit that goes toward their bachelor’s degree. “Transfer students can plan to complete the requirements for UC-TAG to earn guaranteed admission to the participating UC campus of their choice, and can also plan to earn an AD-T in their transfer major which will ensure guaranteed admission to CSU system, as well as partner HBCUs and dozens of private universities. All of these transfer guarantee agreements are extremely helpful for community college transfer students to make solid transfer plans around these systemwide blueprints, rather than planning with uncertainty and having to fish for transfer information campus by campus. To see how agreements like AD-Ts help students to streamline the transfer process,” Diablo Valley College counselor and transfer services coordinator Tina Wade said. Students take classes with the same learning outcomes of four-year courses. Community college counselors provide students with the resources to find courses that align with four-year universities’ requirements.
7. Easy Application Process
From August to November, high school seniors frantically apply to every college under the moon. The highly toxic and stressful college application season of incoming freshmen college students negatively affects students’ mental health. Community colleges do not overwhelm students in the application process. They do not ask for personal statements nor SAT scores. You simply need to answer a few questions, take English and math placement tests and you’ve made it in!
8. Get to Your Dream School
9. Associate Degree
Collecting multiple degrees never hurt anybody. Community college students earn credits to transfer to a four-year college while also completing an associate degree. In fact, most of the time, students graduate with multiple associate degrees in less than two years. Associate degree graduates tend to possess a slight advantage over students who have only a bachelor’s degree. Community college students flex their well-earned associate degree with pride because it provides higher job eligibility and earning potential.
10. Work with More Ease
The flexibility of community college allows students to study while also working a part-time job. The lack of financial resources to pay for a four-year institution maintains its lead as the most common reason for attending a community college. The low-stakes atmosphere of community college allows students to work and save money to pay the hefty four-year tuition. They can earn their transfer credits while also working to pay for their future bachelor’s degree, a true one stone, two birds situation.
11. Statistics Back it Up
Interestingly, statistics prove that community college transfer students maintain better grades and higher endurance levels in four-year institutions. The challenging academic adjustment period gets the better of many freshmen, and this sometimes negatively affects their grades and confidence. While community college transfers use their two-years at home to mature and prepare for the social and academic trials that come with four-year universities. Also, perhaps due to the personalized and accessible academic help, community college students build more substantial study skills and tools.
12. Smaller Class Sizes
The dramatic shift from a 40-person classroom to a 500-person classroom often proves daunting for incoming first-year college students. The sheer volume of individuals at most university campuses intimidates students from reaching out for academic assistance. “Community colleges also provide smaller class sizes and more campus support than four-year colleges typically do. Smaller class sizes allow for more direct interaction and contact between instructors and students. More campus support means more people and places to turn to when you need help,” Amaya said. Therefore, smaller class sizes allow students to engage more with not only the professor but also their peers.
13. Just as Rigorous
The individualized support that community college provides beats the impersonal programs offered at most universities, but the academic rigor does not differ. “All community colleges have to adhere to a course outline. We have a course outline that we have to meet certain standards, and we have to teach certain things in a way based on the state’s guidelines about how that course is going to match up the four-year version of that course. So, by law, we are expected to have rigor,” Gonzales said. The material that students perfect at a community college level aligns with what four-year students learn, thus equipping them with the knowledge and skills necessary to take on the real world
14. Scholarship Opportunities
Community colleges usually provide multiple scholarships to both current community college students and students transferring to four-year colleges. If financial aid did not cover all of your tuition, scholarships could genuinely come in pretty handy. Most of the time, many community college students do not take advantage of these opportunities so students in the know have a higher chance of receiving full scholarships to their dream universities thanks to the smaller pool of candidates.
15. An Easier Bridge
Frankly, some recent high school graduates feel insecure about leaving home and entering full-fledged adulthood. College significantly shifts the academic schedules students grew up with and the lifestyle they led. Students might feel overwhelmed for a multitude of reasons. From moving out to living with strangers, making your own food, and living far away from family, these adjustments take a toll on students’ motivation and academic performance. By letting you stay home and experience your first couple of classes without extraneous stress, community college acts as a manageable and gentle bridge between high school and university life.