Maggie Stamets is a writer for BUILT BY GIRLS, which prepares the next generation of female and non-binary leaders to step into their power and break into their careers. WAVE is the backbone of BUILT BY GIRLS: it’s a 1:1 matching program that connects high school and college students with top tech professionals across the country. For more information and to sign up check out builtbygirls.com.
There has been a notion that two-year or community colleges are less academically rigorous than four-year universities, but most community colleges have outgrown that reputation as both academic standards and qualifications for teachers have risen.
So, when considering whether to attend a two-year university and work towards an associate’s degree or go to a four-year university immediately out of high school, it’s important to understand what your plan is for your own higher education.
If you need to work and attend school, you’re unsure of the major or degree you may want, or you’re simply not ready to commit the time and money to a four-year university, a community college is a great option. Here are some reasons why starting at a community college could be the right move for you:
Save some money
Student debt is on the mind of many American students. With many graduates walking away with a diploma and thousands of dollars in debt, knocking out some general education courses with an average price tag of $3,777 is a prudent idea — especially if you’re not positive what you want to major in. You also may find that for your career goals, you only need an associate’s degree.
Admission agreements and transfer opportunities
Many community colleges and universities have agreements that allow for an easy transfer of credits. This lets you to take general education classes or do a little academic exploring, knowing your hard work at a community college can be transferred to a university.
Slower pace and academic flexibility
By allowing yourself space to explore the possible options at a two-year college, you increase flexibility compared with students who jump into a university. Plus, you can take a smaller course load if you need a slower pace.
With a slower pace comes a better school life balance. When you attend a four-year university it can be hard to balance things outside of your course load and on-campus duties. But at a community college, you have the freedom to work, care for family members, or focus time on other projects or extracurriculars.
Smaller class sizes and online classes
The class sizes in a state university can be in the hundreds, which means many professors aren’t able to give personal attention to their students. In a community college, that English or science class that will help you get a general education credit usually won’t be much larger than a high school class. And for those who’ve adapted well to the shift to online classes in the past year, many community colleges offer online classes even when it’s not a global pandemic.
Attending a four-year university has obvious benefits, but for many, it’s too expensive, too time-consuming, or too big of a commitment to go straight from high school to campus. Community college is an excellent way to enter the collegiate world at your own pace.
Read more information and tips in our College section