Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Consider Community Colleges

For many years, a college education was thought of as a privilege in this country. Only families with financial means were able to send their children to college. Over the years, state and federal governments stepped into this process. This led more and more kids to pursue higher education. For a select few, even Ivy League schools were the goal.

The current economy has affected many segments of life. Education is absolutely included in this category. Community colleges have worked to bridge the gap for many families in America. There are a number of practical benefits to earning a degree through a community college. These institutions also provide students with access to certificate programs that can be useful in their career pursuits.

Cheaper education
One of the problems graduates of 4-year universities will tell you is their having to pay back loans for education. This is usually because these schools are much more expensive than community colleges. Selecting a local community college will provide you with an affordable degree. Parents are often able to pay out of pocket for these programs. This eliminates having to re-pay student loans for years after graduation.

Shorter period of time
The average program at a community college is 1 ½ to 2 years long. This depends on whether students are full time or not. An associate’s degree program may allow students to get to work sooner. Local employers may be able to easily hire people who have completed certificate programs, which are also available at these schools.

Smaller classrooms
Large schools also have large classrooms. Community colleges have smaller classes, which is great for student-to-teacher ratios. Many feel that this is a better environment for learning. The average class on these campuses can range from 25-35.


  1. Great tips! When I look back sometimes I wish that I went to a two year school and learned a trade instead of attending a four year university. I am not using my degree at all.

  2. I went to community college for my first two years before transferring to a four year. Although I received a liberal arts degree from there, my intent was always to transfer. The benefit was a much more affordable first two years, an easier transition, living at home, and small class sizes. Since I lived near an Ivy League college, many of the profs from there taught at my CC. While they had TA's teaching their courses back at the Ivy League college, I was paying less money to actually have them, not a TA, teach me. It was a great experience.

    Because of my experience, I convinced my younger brother to do the same. He graduated with a degree in Criminal Justice over the summer and is now enrolled in a four-year college.

    I can't say enough good things about this idea! So glad you are getting the word out.

    My one tip is don't wait until college to start. I started night classes at my CC while I was still a Senior in college. I started my Freshmen year with 8 college credits already under my belt, I paid less than the AP classes offered at my high school, I didn't have to simply pass one test to get the credit, and the credits were guaranteed to transfer to any college (AP are not).

  3. My son is a senior in high school, graduating in the top 5% of his class with strong SAT scores. As he decides what the next step will be, one of the greatest factors has been the finances. He eliminated the expensive "Ivy's" and "Ivy like" schools (Oberlin) because he doesn't want to be tied down by loans for the next 20 years.

    Another drawback of 4 year schools right now (at least state schools on tighter budgets) is that they've eliminated many faculty positions. Some students can't graduate on time, not because of them, but because the required courses aren't offered often enough. My son asked every school how often they offer required courses in the major for graduation. He eliminated two schools from doing research about that issue.

    I'm glad I'm done with college. It's a tough world!!!

  4. Very informative and interesting. Here in Jamaica there are now many opportunities for persons to pursue tertiary education. Students can get student loans and start paying back after they complete their studies. However in a number of instances some persons find it difficult to get employment after graduating so that they can pay back the loan. This can be frustrating. It is good though that so many persons can improve their education now and not be restricted by financial constraints.I am a new Follower of your Blog. Take care and have a good weekend.

  5. Great post. Both my daughters will be completing their Associates Degrees in May 2012. Their ages will be 15 and 17 (the product of effective home schooling). They plan to attend four-year universities and as sophomores will likely seek part time employment opportunities in their fields. Their degrees should provide a slight edge. I wish I held a degree when I was a sophomore in college. It would have increased my marketability, save me money, as well as, provided a boost to my academic confidence. Community colleges and trade schools are certainly under utilized.

    Investing money, specifically tens of thousands of dollars per year, requires a significant amount of planning and intelligent strategy. Doing so blindly or simply based on what you have heard, even in terms of education, are as irrational as buying an unfamiliar stock or option and hoping things will some day workout to an advantage. Investments are investments - buy low, sell high. The most successful investors do not gamble. They work hard, demonstrate patience, understand their markets, and effectively leverage risk. To gamble with your money is reckless even when the commodity is called education. If you want to gamble with $27,000 (the average student debt accumulated each year), at least have something to show for it besides a piece of paper on the wall. My advice for potential students is to plan, study hard, do not pay for training you do not need (despite social norms), understand your market (what you want to do and where you want to do it), and buy low with the intent of selling high ;-)

  6. We are thinking this is a good choice for our kids, especially if we homeschool all the way through highschool. They could take their basic classes at a community college near by.