Praise of the Community College
by Caroline Reeder
If you are thinking of returning to school, a community
college may be just the place for you. Beginning college
later in life can be overwhelming, especially at a large
university. The community college offers a more personalized
college experience with smaller classes and professors
who often know you by name. No longer the college
of last resort, community colleges offer an academically
rigorous curriculum that prepares you for continued
studies at a four-year university or entering the workforce.
Advantages of Community Colleges
Many successful people got their start at community
colleges, including celebrities like actor Tom Hanks
and comedian Billy Crystal. Even some of your
professors may be proud community college graduates.
Community colleges have several advantages over four-year
universities, especially for returning or
older-than-average students. These include:
An Open Door Policy. Community colleges are
very forgiving. Regardless of your previous school performance,
most community colleges will admit you as long as you
have a high school diploma
or GED. Once you get there, it is entirely up to
you to do the work required to remain a student in good
standing. Graduation from a community college also opens
the door to admission at most state universities. Many
community colleges and universities have articulation
agreements through which your admission and ability
to transfer credits are almost guaranteed.
Convenience. Community colleges are attended
by people of very diverse backgrounds and have an especially
high concentration of working adults. Because of this,
they offer classes during a variety of times including
early morning, late afternoon, evenings and weekends.
No matter what your job situation is, you should be
able to find classes that accommodate your schedule
and still allow you to lead a relatively normal life.
Class Size. Community colleges generally have
smaller class sizes than universities, which frequently
offer freshman and sophomore classes in massive auditoriums.
Rather than being a speck in a sea of faces or a random
name on a roster, your professor may know you by name.
You will also have a much easier time getting to know
your classmates. You may not have returned to college
for the camaraderie but a smile from a classmate when
youre having a tough time can really help.
Cost. Tuition at community colleges is considerably
less than tuition at four-year universities. For the
cost of taking one class at a university, you can take
an average of three classes at a community college.
Additionally, you may qualify for financial
aid, student loans or scholarships. If you are working
toward a bachelors degree, you can save a considerable
amount of money by completing your first two years of
coursework at a community college.
Success. Celebrities arent the only successful
people to have gotten their start at community colleges.
Alumni include leaders in business, education, government,
politics, sports, the arts, and even space exploration,
are community college graduates. In Florida, almost
75 percent of community college graduates continue their
education at four-year institutions.