Choosing to start your post-secondary education at a two-year college instead of a university can save you money. It can also provide career opportunities and be beneficial to your lifestyle.
When you start thinking about college, you may be focused on a four-year program. This is not your only option and looking at the big picture can help you make the best decision. Community colleges mostly offer two-year programs and provide certificates and associate degrees.
Certain people pick a degree program that ends in the two years they go to community college. Other people decide to take the first two years of their four-year program at a two-year college and then transfer to a four-year college or university. There are certain community colleges that offer four-year bachelor's programs for specific majors including electronics engineering and nursing. If you know what you want to study, find out the best options by looking at timelines and tuition costs. Staying at home and attending a local college can save you tremendously over the first two years.
What are the benefits of community college?
Community colleges are way more affordable and accessible compared to universities and four-year colleges. The class schedules are often more flexible with night classes available to allow people to work a full-time job. For certain career paths, community college can often be a better fit. Many parents and those who are working while attending college find community colleges a better option.
1) Save money with two-year colleges
Financially speaking, community colleges can save you a lot of money. Generally, tuition is much lower at a two-year college compared to universities and four-year colleges.
If you plan to transfer to a university or a four-year college afterward, you will be able to attain a variety of credits at the community college while saving money. Check with your guidance counselor in advance that your credits are transferrable to avoid paying for the same class twice. If transferring is in your program's future, be sure to find out the fine details ahead of time. There are even certain community colleges that have agreements with four-year schools that can guarantee credit transfer and admission.
Another benefit of community college is that you can save thousands on living costs by staying at home. You will also save on transportation costs by commuting to school. If you drive, you will have to factor in gas and parking fees. If you are attending a school far from home, there will be the added cost of flights or travel home during the holidays.
2) Enjoy more flexible class schedules at Community College
Do you need to go to school at night or on the weekends? If so, community colleges, which tend to offer more of these class times, might be a good fit.
If attending class on the weekends and going to school at night fits your schedule better, the community college has the options you need. This is particularly beneficial for students who plan on working while they attend college and those who currently have a job they don't want to leave. It is ideal for parents who are going back to school and need to work around their family schedule. It is perfect for non-traditional students who are seeking a career change. Community college is excellent for part-time students and those wishing to upgrade. If you require a lighter course load due to other life commitments and prefer to take extra time to earn your credits and want to choose a less costly school experience, community college may be exactly what you are seeking.
3) Not all students are ready to commit to a four-year college
Some people graduate high school knowing exactly what career path they want to follow, and some of those jobs only require an associate's degree or certificate. In that case, community college is the perfect fit. Other students aren’t quite sure what they want to study, and a less expensive option allows them to explore.
Additionally, some people may find a community college to be a more supportive environment; classes tend to be smaller, and the culture can be less competitive. For students who need little more time to develop academic skills, it can be a smart choice.
4) Prepare for your career by attending community college
The main reason people attend college is to help them earn the skills they need to find a job in their preferred field. If you are interested in training for a career at a two-year college, you will have great options for finding something local.
Attending a community college can also increase your chances of getting into a greater four-year school compared to jumping into that route directly out of high school. Whether community college is your end game or just the beginning of a longer schooling path, there are many benefits to taking this route.
Making your decision
While community college won't be the right option for everybody, it is the perfect choice for many students. Give all your options some consideration. Weigh the pros and cons and complete a budget for two-year and four-year schools. Determine what type of learning environment you are looking for and what you are looking to receive from your college experience as well as the career you are pursuing.