I have written about this topic before but feel it is worth repeating. I love community colleges! For the right student, starting at a community college can be a place of self and academic discovery, not to mention affordability.
So how do you know if you are a good fit for community college? While there are many factors to consider, here are a few of my favorite reasons:
1. Financial. Community colleges are affordable. Using Foothill College, a local community college, as an example, current tuition is $31 per unit plus basic fees. The total estimated cost of attendance for a school year is about $3,000. In comparison, the UC estimates a student will spend $32, 000 per year.
2. Maturity. For various reasons, leaving home is not meant to happen for every recent high school graduate. Attending community college allows students to take the time to mature, explore who they are, and figure out their next steps, all the while taking transferable lower-division courses.
Did you know some community colleges offer residential programs? This is a wonderful option for a student who is ready to become more independent but wants to keep their college costs down.
3. Smaller class sizes. I love telling my students that when I was in my undergraduate program at a UC, I took a class in a movie theater off-campus. In fact, many of my classes were in larger lecture-style classrooms. It was fine after I had adjusted to college, but that first year was tough. There is something to be said about the intimacy of a small classroom. You get to know your classmates and professors on a level you don’t get when you are, well, in a movie theater. Another factor to consider is letters of recommendation. If you want to apply for an internship or a study abroad program, for example, you will need letters of support from your professors. How personalized would your letter be from a professor who doesn’t know you?
4. Certification Programs. Community colleges offer a variety of certification and apprenticeship programs that get students job-ready in their chosen field in less than two years. Popular programs include cosmetology, automotive, fire technology, law enforcement, dental or medical assistants, pharmacy technicians, and early childhood development, to name a few.
5. Flexible scheduling. Community colleges tend to offer an array of classes throughout the day and evenings. This flexible scheduling affords students the opportunity to take on full time (or part time) internships or jobs while earning their degrees.
6. Second Chances. Perhaps your high school transcript doesn’t reflect your fullest potential? Community college is a place to clean the slate. You get to reinvent your academic self, all while working toward a transfer plan. Look for Transfer Agreements with UC, CSU, and a variety of private colleges at your community college.
7. Be the First. Students who are undocumented, underrepresented, or first-generation have found strong support systems, like EOPS and Puente to help them become the first in their family to earn a college degree.
These are just a few of many reasons why I love community colleges. If any of these factors resonate with you, check out your local community college and see if this is a good fit for you!