It’s not news to anyone that college costs are skyrocketing. The average cost of one year at a private college or university has risen to a shocking $31,465. It’s no wonder that parents and students look at that number and wonder whether a college degree is in their reach at all.
However, many families overlook the tremendous costs savings that could be achieved by attending a community college for two years. Tuition at the community college is typically half that of a public institution and just one-tenth that of a private institution.
For many years, community colleges fought the image that they were the last resort for students who couldn’t get in anywhere else and that their programs were not as challenging or comprehensive and those at larger colleges universities.
Today, however, community colleges are thriving centers that not only provide state-of-the-art career education but also provide a high-quality educational foundation for students who wish to transfer to a college or university after two years.
Because most colleges and universities, regardless of size, require students to take core courses in their first two years before choosing a major, taking these courses at the community college level will save money. Additionally, core courses at the university level are often held in large lecture halls with hundreds of students.
At community colleges, class sizes rarely exceed 30 students. So, paradoxically, community college students receive more individualized attention yet pay much less for that privilege.
Instructors at the community college level are required to hold a Master’s degree in their instructional area. Some have pointed to this as evidence that community colleges cannot provide the same quality of instruction as colleges and universities that employ professors with Doctoral degrees.
However, very few of those professors actually teach the core courses that students take during their first two years of college. Additionally, community college instructors often have real-world employment experience that gives them a more practical perspective than university professors, who are immersed in the world of academia.
Transferring to a larger institution at the end of two years at the community college is often easier than being admitted as a Freshman. Also, many states guarantee admission to their state colleges and universities to community college graduates who maintain a certain grade point average. Even prestigious Ivy League colleges like Harvard, Yale and Brown have accepted transfer students from community colleges.