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Monday, March 17, 2014
Three Cheers for Community College!
Twenty years ago, when I was applying to college, the idea of community college was simply not on my radar. That was for two reasons, mainly. First, I was in love with the idea of going to a big name school; I wanted the school sweatshirt, the football games, the "experience". Second, I wanted to get out of town.
While I don't regret going to a big-name, four-year university, I'm not convinced life would have turned out much different if I'd started at a community college. Here's why.
You spend the first couple of years of any bachelor's degree dispensing with general education requirements. Most students don't get into the meat of their degree courses until at least the third year. For me, that's when college started getting interesting.
You can still graduate from a four-year university, even if you start off at a community college. Many students find gratifying and remunerative professions after earning a two-year associates degree. If you want to continue on, you can.
You will save a fortune. Community colleges are exponentially cheaper than four-year universities. If you continue to live at home for two years, you will save even more. Dorm life is fun and formative, but incredibly costly.
You will have a chance to figure out life. Many (most?) high school seniors can't possibly know what they want to do with their future. Shipping off out of town to a high-priced, high-paced university can add heat to that pressure cooker. The stakes are lower at community colleges, largely because the admissions requirements are more lenient and the price tag is less punitive.
If prestige is a concern-consider this. I know several people who attended community college (and performed well, academically) before transferring to auspicious, four-year institutions. They have gone on to graduate with honors and have their pick of graduate programs.
With the stakes in college admissions being so high, it's nice to know you have options. Don't forget to keep your mind open to them.
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