Community colleges often get a bad rap as schools that students should attend if they don’t have good grades or are not ready for a university.
While those reasons could be true there are many reasons why people attend community colleges.
The truth is there are many reasons why community colleges can be a great first step for students, whether they’re mediocre students or high achieving ones:
Community Colleges Have Smaller Class Sizes
Most community colleges have small classes of 30 to 100 students.
By contrast, many university classes have 100 to 500 students, especially in lower level prerequisite courses.
I attended both a community college and several universities. At the community college, I was never in a class larger than 50 students (for sciences) or 30 (for English and math classes).
I was a shy student, so with small class sizes, I never felt lost or like a number. I was able to make friends and see the same people around the campus, which I enjoyed.
When I went to the university, I had a few small, upper level English classes, but many of my classes had 100 to 300 students. That was overwhelming.
More Individualized Attention At Community Colleges
Most community college instructors are there because they like to teach. Teaching is their passion.
However, many university instructors are first and foremost interested in research; they often teach because they have to, not because it is their passion. Of course, this is not true for all teachers in either setting, but I found it to be true of many of my teachers in both settings.
Also, at the community college, almost always the person teaching the class was the professor. At the university, I frequently had teacher’s assistants teaching the classes, not the teachers themselves. Plus, making contact with the teacher was more difficult.
Community College Can Be Stepping Stone To A Prestigious College Or University
Many people mistakenly think that if a student attends a community college first, they will be unlikely to get into a prestigious university.
For some schools, that is true. Harvard only accepts on average 13 transfer students per year, while Notre Dame accepts 50 to 60. However, that is beginning to change.
The University of Southern California accepts about 1,500 transfer students a year, and my alma mater, The University of Michigan, accepts 1,200 transfer students a year.
Not only do many selective schools welcome transfer students, but for some students, the only way they can get into these selective schools is by proving themselves in a college setting first.
I graduated high school with a 3.1 GPA, which would not have gotten me into the University of Michigan. However, after two years at the community college, I had become a better student and had a 4.0 GPA. I was admitted to the University of Michigan based on my community college achievements.
In addition, getting in as a transfer student was less competitive. In 2018 U of M accepted 1,800 of 4,600 transfer applicants, but only 15,470 of 65,680 high school applicants.
Community Colleges Are More Reasonably Priced
College prices continue to rise, but more and more students are becoming savvy when it comes to avoiding the burden of student loan debt.
One great way to lessen the debt burden is to go to a community college first.
In most cases, community college tuition costs 25% to 40% of the cost of tuition at a university, offering students a serious savings.
While most students dream of attending particular universities, there is nothing wrong with starting your college career at a community college.
In fact, community colleges offer many unique advantages that most universities cannot and do not offer.
Did you attend a community college first, before university? Would you encourage your children to do so? Why or why not?
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