So many students will only consider four-year universities when making a decision on where to go to school. This is unfortunate, as community colleges can be amazing stepping stones and save a ton of headache, heartache, and money in the long run. While they are not as sexy as a four-year university, they sure come with some appealing points to consider.
Most young people don’t know what they want to eat for lunch tomorrow, let alone what career they want to have after graduation. And even then, there is no guarantee that the career you chose, studied for, and obtained is where you will want to end up in five or ten years. Even full-fledged adults with life experience struggle with the “what do I want to do when I grow up” issue. Community college makes exploring different avenues of education and experiences possible by offering a wide array of classes, majors, and programs- all without the enormous cost of four-year universities. Changing your mind while in community college won’t harm a student financially- if anything it helps to narrow down what a student is really passionate about without the added pressure of thousands of dollars per credit “wasted” if things don’t go as originally planned. With the freedom to learn without major financial restrictions, time and money are saved from getting too far into an education out of guilt or financial need.
This one is huge. Per unit costs for attending an in-state community college will vary state by state. However, you can expect to pay sizeable differences (hundreds to thousands of dollars PER unit less- most classes are 3 units on average) per credit between community and universities. This can be the difference between paying a few thousand for your first two years of school or 20k per year (or more/less depending on the university.) Despite not being a four-year university, many community colleges have quality professors and classes that will fill the requirements for your first two years of college. The general education curriculum is mostly the same (depending on major) at a community college or a 4 year. Why pay more for the same thing? When you graduate from a 4 year, your diploma will only show that school, not any previous education you used to satisfy requirements. If you have your eye on a pricey 4 year, you can do yourself a big favor and save 1⁄2 on your education costs by starting at a community college.
Cost Of Living
Save on living expenses. If you are fortunate enough to have some family AND a community college in town, you can save a ton on living expenses by living at home for the first two years. While this may not be reasonable or attractive for some, by living at home and saving on tuition at a community college, as well as working a job, it might be possible to save a good amount of the money you will need 2 years later at a university. Pair that with working while at your four years and using any scholarships you may have been awarded, you may be able to skate out of school debt free- claiming the freedom that most students can’t even begin to imagine.
Community colleges can have a great variety of quality classes and offerings, as well as some certificate programs if you are not in need of a four-year degree for your trade of interest or choice. Remember that whatever debt you acquire during school will need to be paid back, stalling any further pursuits you may have after graduation. Too many times, student loans dictate the when, where, what and why in our lives. Do your future self a favor and create options to explore without heavy student loan debt as a burden.