should you attend a community college?

Posted : April 8, 2008
Last Updated : November 13, 2013
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should you attend a community college?

A four-year college is not the only path to success. A community college can help you start a career after just two years, providing training for some of the fastest growing jobs in the U.S. It can also offer a start to your four-year degree, giving you about half the credits you need to earn a bachelor's degree.

Benefits of Community Colleges
The benefits of attending a community college include:

  • Courses that cover the basics but also apply principles to the workplace.
  • Classes that often are more hands-on than those at a four-year college.
  • Saving money in tuition and other expenses, such as room and board. Tuition can be less than half of that at a four-year public college, and often students save money by living at home.
  • Receiving more personal attention from the professors than at a large university.
  • Easier decision making on a major once you've transferred to a four-year college. The focus on occupations and career discovery programs at a community college can help you with the decision.
  • Another chance at four-year college scholarships. Many four-year colleges offer numerous scholarships that are reserved for students who transfer from community college.

Plan Ahead if You Want to Transfer
For many students, attending a community college and transferring to a four-year university makes a lot of sense. It can be a good move academically and financially if you develop a personal plan of action and take the steps to make it succeed.

If you plan to transfer, don't procrastinate. Counselors at both community colleges and four-year colleges say it's crucial that you start preparing early if you plan to continue education at a four-year college or university after community college.

Before you get too far into your community college coursework, you'll need to make some decisions about the path you're planning to take.

  • What is your probable major? Deciding on a major early can help you determine the exact courses you will need to take and can help make your transition smoother. It will also help you choose the four-year college you want to attend. Check the course offerings available in your intended major at the colleges in which you're interested. If you don't know what you want to major in, the best bet would be to take a core curriculum that is easily transferred and save your major course requirements for the four-year institution.
  • Which four-year college are you planning to attend? Choosing the four-year college you'll transfer to will help you make decisions about which courses to take as well as allow you to prepare to meet that college's admissions requirements.
  • Will the courses you're taking in community college transfer to the four-year college you've chosen? You can begin your transition by talking with your advisor at the community college and the transfer advisor at the four-year college. The schools may have an articulation agreement, which spells out the courses at the community college that will transfer and apply to majors at the four-year college.

What's an Articulation Agreement?
Articulation agreements are formal agreements between colleges or other educational institutions that dictate which college credits will transfer. They help students make an easy transition between institutions.

When you decide on a four-year institution, find out if it has an articulation agreement with your community college. If so, you can discuss how to make the best course choices with your community college counselor. Ideally, you should meet with the transfer advisor at the four-year school as well. Many four-year colleges sponsor transfer weekends and counseling for community college students.

If the school does not have an agreement with your community college, you should discuss course choices with the counselor from the four-year school — the earlier the better. It's also wise to keep course descriptions, reading lists, and outlines from every community college course you take. You may need them to help convince the four-year school to accept credits for a course.

Whether you want an associate's degree or a bachelor's degree, a community college may be the first step to achieve your goals. For more information regarding community colleges, check out Pros and Cons of Community Colleges and Transitioning from a Community College to a Four-Year School.

Source: ACT's News You Can Use


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