Benefiting from a Community College

Photo of outside of the Henry Ford College Science building with Henry Ford College sign in large letters.

Senior year of high school marks a time of choices and decision making. One of the biggest questions you find yourself faced with is where will you attend college should you want to further your education. You will want guidance and advice from your peers, teachers, counselors and parents. In my case and for many of my friends, we were told adamantly that if we wanted to receive the best college education it would be in our best interest to attend a university college rather than a community college. The reason being as explained to me was that the quality of the professors, and the lessons taught were significantly better than those you would receive at a community college. After being persuaded into thinking that a university education was better, I applied, and was accepted into a four year university. After my first year I could say I was less than impressed: the classrooms were huge and filled with approximately 80 students, the professor spent no one-on-one time with his students, and even though I finished my first year with my desired obtained credits, I was so far in debt I felt hopeless. After taking some time off school and strictly working I decided to go back to college to finish what I started but this time I chose to attend a community college. I knew after just one semester that this was a better fit for me and I feel that absolutely one can obtain just as good of an education if not better at a community college.

While tuition at four-year colleges remain high, it is no wonder why students explore other options, being that of low-cost community colleges. The idea for most being that you can pay a more reasonable price to first obtain your associate’s degree, then transfer to a university to finish your remaining education required for your bachelor’s degree. While considering your pro’s and con’s to attending a community college, you may discover a few oppositions to the idea of doing so. Kim Clark of U.S. News reports that “In a 2008 paper, Harvard professor Bridget Terry Long found that among similar students, those who chose two-year colleges were less likely to get a bachelor’s degree than those who went straight to a four-year college.” And counselors may urge you that in picking a school “you get what you pay for” when choosing a community college over a university.

I first chose a community college simply because it was significantly less expensive than the tuition I paid at a university. Reyna Gobel of U.S. News reports that “For instance, the tuition and fees at Diablo Valley College in Northern California are nearly $6,000 for 24 credits, while it costs more than $16,500 for the same number of credits at nearby San Jose State University [and] based on two years of attending community college, the price difference and savings could be enough to pay for a student’s junior year of tuition, fees, textbooks and meals.” I found that for me that the advantages exceeded that of just saving money. In my experience the professors were more personal and were able to help their students one-on-one as the classrooms were small enough to do so. The relationships I have formed with my professors and classmates has helped me in my academic performance. The courses were just as challenging as those at the university I attended, and because I was able to settle in a more personable environment in class I felt I took far more from each course. I feel that community colleges are a perfect and less-expensive way to start your college journey and are a great way to obtain your first two years of credits.

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