Reasons You Should Attend Community College

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The Time Has Come

It is summer time, and instead of thinking about vacation, this is the time of year some people begin to think about the future. In many cases, students are just graduating from high school and trying to determine their next course of action. This is a major decision in life, but I would like to help suggest one thing: community college.

Community college had a rather mediocre reputation for many years, but now all that has changed. Community college often offers challenging classes taught by professors that could or are already teaching at other 4 year institutions. In fact, I found many of my community college classes to be as challenging and in-depth as many of the classes I took at a 4 year college later on. Many students opt to transfer after two years to a 4 year college, but it is also possible to get a certificate or Associate's Degree and head right into the workforce.

Aside from recent high school graduates, plenty of adults that have been working for years opt to go to a community college. Community colleges offer excellent prices, scholarship opportunities, flexible scheduling, and many program options. Community colleges are also a great place to meet others in your situation. There are tutors, remedial classes, and computer labs with helpers available to those of you that may be a little nervous about going back to school. Community colleges have so much to offer, so give it a try!

The Cost

The most obvious reason many people choose a community college over a four-year college is the cost. Attending a community college full-time is typically about 1/3 the price of attending a public college or university. If you are considering going to a private college, that is even more expensive than a public college most of the time, so you could be cutting even more costs by attending a community college.

When you go away to a four-year college, it is sometimes a good idea to stay in a dorm or an on-campus apartment. Even though that is convenient, the cost is often higher and not included in the costs I listed above. The costs listed above is only taking into consideration tuition and fees. If you must stay in a dorm when attending a four-year college, but you could live rent-free with parents if you go to community college, you are obviously cutting costs even more by staying home.

If your finances are not that great, you can still fill out a FAFSA form online for community college. The FAFSA will help determine if you quality for any grants, loans, work-study programs, etc. Also, it is likely there are scholarships offered through the community college and you simply need to apply to them to see if you qualify. I've found that even if you don't qualify the first year you attend community college, if you do really well academically and then try again later, you may qualify for scholarships at that time.

Four Years of College is Not for Everyone

OK, I am going to say it - going away to college is not for everyone. However, I feel community college will benefit just about anyone out there. Let me give you some examples.

Bob just graduated high school, but he did not get accepted into any colleges. Bob is great at driving. He actually passed his driver's test on the first try. Bob is the guy that chauffeurs all his friends around and even drives Grandma to Bingo on Friday nights. Most community colleges offer courses to earn a CDL license so a person can become a commercial truck driver. I don't know about you, but every time I look at the Help Wanted ads, companies are looking to hire drivers. A community college program for drivers is an excellent way for Bob to start a career that pays well doing something he enjoys.

Carrie has been working at dead end jobs for a while and wants a change. She has no desire to go to school full-time or attend a four-year college. However, she'd like to began working at an office, preferably in a law office. Her community college offers certificate programs for legal assistants, as well as an Associate's Degree in Paralegal Studies. Now she can continue to work full-time and attend a couple of classes each semester. Within a year, she'll have a certificate; within 4 years (going part-time), she will have an Associate's Degree. She can also use her community college's career center to help her find a job in a law office.

Mark is 60 years old and he's been laid off from work for a while. He never went to college, but always wished he did. Mark goes to his local community college, discusses his situation, and finds out he can apply for a scholarship for older adults. Within no time, he is able to attend classes using his scholarship money. Since he is out of work, he also qualifies for some grants and work-study money. He doesn't mind working along side the other college students since he is learning new skills. Mark is also taking advantage of the computer lab at his college. Someone is on-site to help him with any questions he has about the technology he hasn't used before. Within a year, he has a certificate in computer graphics and the career center helps him find a job.

Practical Life Skills

As a person that attended a community college, a small private college, and a public university, I can tell you there are differences between each one. A difference that is starting to become more evident to me at my office are the practical life skills learned at a community college. I feel 4 year colleges may be lacking in these options.

At my office, it seems like every time someone leaves, a person fresh out of college replaces that employee. I understand this keeps costs down because they will work for less pay, but it means that in most cases, we are starting with a person that often has zero experience working at an office. I've also noticed those that attended 4 year colleges the entire 4 years versus attending a community college for at least one year are less prepared for an office environment.

I believe the reason for this is community colleges focus on getting someone into a career. Many community colleges also help transfer students, but they know it is just as likely that a community college student wants to learn the skills to get a job immediately. For this reason, many community colleges offer classes on office procedures and etiquette, increasing typing speed, Microsoft Office Suite, and other helpful office-related classes. In many instances, those classes are required. At 4 year colleges, you don't find those classes, or if you do, they are few and far between. This is why I now spend my days training new employees on Excel basics, why leggings are not a substitute for dress pants, and how to put a caller on hold.

Even if you do plan on attending a 4 year college for the entire 4 years, do yourself a favor and attend a few helpful classes at community college. You might believe you are heading for an amazing career, but in this economy, you are more likely to work as a receptionist at your first job... if you can get a job at all. If you want to work at an office, it will be helpful for you to know office basics and how to properly use computer programs that will be important to your future success.

Student Employment

I can't stress this enough - work as a student assistant or work-study student worker while attending college! It has been my experience that a community college often has many work opportunities for students. Even if you are attending a 4 year college, hop into the career center and see what is available for you.

I do realize most college students are already working. Obviously if you are working as a waitress and making hundreds of dollars in one weekend, it might seem silly to work for minimum wage as a student worker. However, in the long run it pays off. Even if you only work 10 hours a week at an office on campus, you are getting work experience. It is also something you can put on a resume.

Here's another tip for you - you can still work at a different job that pays better at the same time while you work part-time on campus. Student assistant jobs typically have extremely flexible hours. If you have a nice boss, you might even be able to work on homework or study when it is slow at the job. You can work as a waitress on the weekend or at night, and then work as a student assistant between classes. I used to work 2 or 3 student assistant jobs at once to make ends meet and it gave me plenty of work experience. No one at any of my full-time jobs after graduation had to bother teaching me Office Skills 101.

Options, Options, Options

Whether you'd like to take a fun creative writing class for no credits or you'd like to transfer to a 4 year college one day, your community college can help you with either. There are plenty of classes to help you increase your skills for employment. There are also many classes that will be transferable when you go to a different college (make sure to ask an advisor for recommended classes). You can also take plenty of adult learning classes to teach you how to be an electrician, plumber, mechanic, etc. Community college has something for everyone!

If you are working, a community college often offers flexible scheduling. Maybe you only want to take classes in the morning. Perhaps you'd like to only take night classes because of your job. You can often take a majority (or all) classes online. The choice is yours!

College may not be for everybody, but I do feel community colleges offer such a wide variety of options, that practically anyone can find something appealing. I even found out some of the local community colleges in my area are offering "ghost hunting" classes on weekends. Who knew? It doesn't matter what you are into, if you've got the desire to learn, you are bound to benefit from attending community college.


Copyright ©2014 Jeannieinabottle

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Comments 16 comments

ologsinquito profile image

ologsinquito 2 years ago from USA

Community colleges are a great resource, and, for many people, they offer the only possibility of ever obtaining a college degree. The stigma also appears to have greatly lessened. Voted up and shared.


Purpose Embraced profile image

Purpose Embraced 2 years ago from Jamaica

This is an informative hub. It is very important that young people (and older adults) know the options that are available to pursue studies/careers.


aethelthryth profile image

aethelthryth 2 years ago from American Southwest

Good thoughts. It drove me crazy, upon graduating from a 4-year college to find that after 16 years of school, everybody still considered me not educated enough to do real work till I took some on-the-job classes about how things were in the workplace. Looking back, some community college classes as you suggest would have been a help, if for no other reason than meeting real working people in the real working world.


billybuc profile image

billybuc 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

For years while I was teaching, I told students and parents that college was not the only option for kids. They didn't want to hear it, but I still believe I am right. Going to a good trade school, or a community college for a trade, is an intelligent option for many students. Good info here, Jeannie.


Jeannieinabottle profile image

Jeannieinabottle 2 years ago from Baltimore, MD Author

ologsinquito - Thanks so much for the vote up and for sharing! I am glad the stigma of the community college seems to be a thing of the past. I really enjoyed my 2 years at my community college and found it more beneficial than any other school I've attended.

Purpose Embraced - I am glad you liked my hub. I hope more people take advantage of attending a community college because of it.

aethelthryth - I found the Microsoft Office Suite class I took and the typing classes I took in community college to be the most valuable lessons I learned the whole time I went to school. Other people at my office seem to be winging it, and the results are not so great! Thanks for your comment!

billybuc - I think more folks are starting to understand college is not the only route now. Sometimes I do wish I'd stopped at 2 years because my associate's degree was more than enough for the last 2 jobs I've had. Oh well. Maybe someone else will benefit from my advice... especially in this economy! Thanks for dropping by.


mary615 profile image

mary615 2 years ago from Florida

This Hub is very timely for me. I have a son who just graduated High School, and has already enrolled in our local community college. I just don't have the money to send hims away from home anyway.

Good info here. Voted UP,etc. and willl share.


Jeannieinabottle profile image

Jeannieinabottle 2 years ago from Baltimore, MD Author

I hope he has the best of luck in community college. It can be a wonderful experience. Also, if he does well, he might just get scholarships to transfer to a 4 year college. I know I did! Thanks for the vote up and thanks for sharing!


erinshelby profile image

erinshelby 2 years ago from United States

The cost savings of going to a CC is huge! It's definitely something future college students should look into as the cost of college is skyrocketing, with no end in sight.


Victoria Lynn profile image

Victoria Lynn 2 years ago from Arkansas, USA

I teach at the community college here, and I love it. I actually prefer it to teaching at the University, as I have done both. I love the atmosphere, the personal attention. There are high quality teachers there who just love being there. Great article!

OH, how's it going with the advice on the leggings? Some people . . . .


Jeannieinabottle profile image

Jeannieinabottle 2 years ago from Baltimore, MD Author

erinshelby - Aside from saving money, I feel like going to community college is a good option now as far as an education goes. Everybody is so interested in climbing the corporate ladder, but the world really needs good plumbers, electricians, and other workers, too. You can learn those skills there and still make plenty of money. Sometimes I think that is the way I should of gone. I hate office politics! Thanks for your comment!

Victoria Lynn - I always enjoyed the professors and the quality of my classes at community college. I went to a private liberal arts college for only one year - I did not like it at all. The professors would sit down with the students to talk about our feelings. I don't care about feelings... please teach me something!

As for the leggings, it is a funny story. Right after I'd written this (I'd been working on it a few days), the dress code policy changed at my job yesterday! It is now more relaxed, so you can wear jeans any day. However, it explicitly states: Leggings are not acceptable unless worn in place of panty hose with a dress or skirt. I guess I was not the only one frustrated with the leggings and blouse look. ;-)

Thanks for your comment!


FlourishAnyway profile image

FlourishAnyway 2 years ago from USA

I do hope you sign up for ghost hunting lessons and write about your experience.


Jeannieinabottle profile image

Jeannieinabottle 2 years ago from Baltimore, MD Author

I really want to do it. It is on Saturdays and seems like fun. I will certainly write a hub about it if I do it. Thanks for the idea! :-)


DrBill-WmL-Smith profile image

DrBill-WmL-Smith 2 years ago from Hollister, MO

I totally agree that a lot of students in four year colleges and universities would be better served, for themselves, and their communities, by attending a community college. Good information. Thanks for sharing. ;-)


Jeannieinabottle profile image

Jeannieinabottle 2 years ago from Baltimore, MD Author

Thanks for your comment! I wish more students considered community college since most of the classes are the same or better than at other colleges.


TimArends profile image

TimArends 2 years ago from Chicago Region

I agree! I attended Berea College in Kentucky and it had a work-study program to help the students pay their expenses. It was basically tuition free.


Jeannieinabottle profile image

Jeannieinabottle 2 years ago from Baltimore, MD Author

So many community colleges offer great payment options. I had to completely pay for my own education the first year I went to community college, but I managed to do it without going into debt. It was also a better school than a private 4 year college I attended for one year, too.

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