When I was faced with the reality of having to enroll at a local community college, I honestly thought my life was over. I didn’t want to be caught dead in the 13th grade at a college of last resorts. It wasn’t until I spoke with a guidance counselor who helped me change my perspective which ended up working in my favor. She told me that a community college was just another name for a junior college.
Although I didn’t initially understand what she meant, she helped me to realize that if I did well at the junior college level, it was possible for me to attend a four-year university of my choice by using their transfer agreement program. For some reason, I believed her. I worked hard and was able to earn my associate degree in under two-years and transfer to my dream university at that time. It was at that point that my life that my negative perceptions disappeared, and my life had changed for the better. As an advocate for the community college experience, here are six benefits for you to consider.
1. Affordability: Community colleges are not just affordable, but they can also bring out the best in a student if they keep an open mind, work hard and stay focused. Community colleges can also reduce the financial burden of attending expensive four-year colleges and universities by allowing students to minimize and/or avoid the cost of high student loan debt.
2. Qualified Professors: Aside from professors who teach in vocational and technical fields, most community college professors have master's degrees and doctorates. Professors at community colleges can help students work more closely, achieve their goals, and provide basic support.
3. Real World Experience: Most students look down at community colleges because they feel it will not give them that “college experience” they are looking for. Whether that is true or not, a community college can expose them to the real world by pushing them to work harder to prove that they can succeed at this level. And with hard work, ultimately anything is possible.
4. Transfer and Workforce Development Programs: Community colleges are great for preparing students at the junior level to transfer into four-year programs. In addition, students who see themselves as more career ready than college ready, can also benefit by enrolling in career training and workforce development programs. By doing so, they can build a career path that allows them to enter the workforce in a position of strength.
5. Finding Your Interest: At some point in life, many of us find ourselves struggling to discover who we are, what will make us happy and what we want to do with our lives. Community college allow students to explore their career options and meet people with similar interests. It allows students to explore the practical way of life while learning about different subjects that can potentially expose them to a career path they will love.
6. Smaller Class Size: Community colleges offer courses with smaller class sizes compared to some four-year universities that offer some of their general studies courses with a class size of over a hundred students or more. For students who learn better in a more smaller class setting, junior colleges are a better option.
In closing, while community colleges offer more benefits than the ones mentioned above, I believe it is only a matter of time before community colleges get the respect and full credit that they deserve. Until then, they will continue to be a best kept secret for those who are in the know.