While thinking about colleges, undergraduate applicants tend to think about the generic (but infamous) 4 year colleges, right? What they overlook are the underrated outcasts - community colleges.
What is a community college?
I’m glad you asked. Even if you didn’t, I’m still going to answer it.
Community colleges are colleges providing two - year associate degrees, the credits of which can be optionally transferred into courses of a four year (or major) college, wherein you can earn a bachelor’s degree. They provide education which is at par with that of four year degree granting colleges (which we will lovingly call 4YDGC in this article for my ease). Though community colleges are thought to be inferior, they pose some advantages over 4YDGC.
According to a recent study, more than 40% of total undergrads in the US (including Indians) attend community colleges, the largest bracket composed of students in the age group of 18 to 24 years old.
They offer many kinds of educational programs, such as associate degrees and certificates, which focus on preparing a student in the field of their choice; other types of associate degrees which can prove to be a pathway to earning a bachelor’s degree from a prestigious university.
Why attend community college?
A community college is like a mellowed down version of a 4YDGC. The subjects and courses taught are highly recognized, depending on your community college of course. There are a few advantages of attending community college, like:
- It is much more affordable as compared to general 4YDGC. On average, the educational expenditure (tuition and fees) at a public community college is around $8,000.
- It is a nice way to get familiar with the culture, education system, teaching methods, etc.
- The class size is much smaller. The average class size in general elective classes in a 4YDGC is 75 people whereas the average class size here is 25. Therefore, the professors give attention to all the students present.
- A community college is a great way for students to explore their interests and take courses of their liking. It provides an opportunity for students to pursue various subjects. These act as strong foundations for courses that the student wants to major in in college. Doesn’t that sound wonderful?
- There are many options for scholarships available for students attending community colleges.
- Another major advantage of studying in a community college is that the schedule is very flexible. Classes are offered during the day as well as at night. This is very helpful for students who want to work (while abiding the visa rules) during the day and still pursue education at night.
- The professors teaching at community colleges are generally fresh graduates of some masters program, or they teach part - time here so that they could dedicate more time to their career goals. This means that they are more approachable due to the fact that the age gap between the students and professors is not much.
- As I mentioned earlier, community colleges are a mellowed down version of 4YDGC. This is also applicable to admission requirements, making them easier to get into.
- There is a lot of diversity present in community colleges. You will find war veterans, young mothers, nuns, students from a lot of different backgrounds, all sitting and learning in the same classroom.
How do I transfer from a community college to a 4YDGC?
One way is the transfer from your community college to a 4YDGC by filling an application form. Most community colleges, or at least the best ones there, are accredited. This means that they have a very good reputation. This definitely plays an advantage while applying as a transfer student.
Another way is that most community colleges are affiliated with prestigious universities. This means that after you complete your associate degree, your community college will help you get admission in a 4YDGC. A lot of community colleges boast about the successful transfers to prestigious 4YDGC, such as NYU, PennState, UCLA, etc.
You should research the help given by the community colleges of your choice and with which universities they’re affiliated.
If it is so good then why don’t more people attend community college?
There are obviously some cons of attending a community school which include the limited curriculum, easy to manage workload, uninvolved students and a lack of campus life.
The workload here is much lighter than at a 4YDGC, but one should keep in mind that despite the fact that material to cover is less, it all depends on how much time you are willing to put into studies.
Sometimes, students aren’t interested in studying because they have other plans, or they are able to devote less time owing to their part - time jobs. This sometimes affects class environment and diligent students suffer along the way.
Not to forget, community colleges aren’t the place you would expect to find a vibrant social life. If you are that kind of student who thrives on social interactions and activities, you may find campus life boring and monotonous. As the schedule of visiting students revolves around part - time work and studies in the remaining time, this isn’t the ideal setting for students who are looking to enhance their extracurricular skills by being a part of clubs and organizations.
All in all, community colleges are a great option for those who need more time to explore their interests. It is best for those looking to study at low tuition fees, and the opportunity of transferring to a 4YDGC. Then again, it isn’t suited for all so make a well informed decision.
Whatever it may be, Yocket is here to help!