Going to college seems like a natural rite of passage for high school students around the world, but what happens if it turns out you can’t attend the college of your choice? Does the dream end there? Well, thanks to the introduction of the community college, an institution that provides higher education for people living in a specific area, the simple answer is: no. For Americans in particular, the option of community college is becoming a popular choice. But for the rest world, the idea of going to a community college still seems relatively new…
There are many reasons behind this but one that’s most common one is the misconception of what a community college represents. From the lack of stature to unrecognized academic certificates, parents can sometimes be under the impression that a community college degree will not help their children forge paths into the world’s leading universities. But that really couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, community colleges are recognized worldwide and accredited by the council for Higher Education Accreditation, as well as the U.S. Department of Education.
With almost six million students enrolled in community colleges last year according to Inside Higher Ed, we discover what is it about this type of college that appeals to the modern student.
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1. Academic flexibility
It’s perfectly normal for students to take time to figure out what they want to do after high school. The great thing about community college is that it gives you time to gauge your interests and passions so you can slowly work towards them. And that doesn’t mean you’re taking any kind of step back! For students who have family or work commitments and can’t attend full-time education, this is your solution. Community colleges provide night classes and have a lighter workload than the average university.
2. The fees
Tuition fees can be an issue for some students, and this is really with good reason. Attending university for four years can be costly and you may have to apply for a student loan which can be a tiresome process. Choosing to study at a community college before continuing to university will save you a lot of money. Tuition fees for community college are one heck of a lot lower, giving you peace of mind as you work for your degree. Aside from that, one of the major differences between university and community college is that, at community college, you are eligible to request financial aid.
3. A unique learning experience
Image courtesy of Orange Coast College
The number of students in a community college class is much smaller than the number at university, allowing you to have better personal interaction with your lecturers. You’ll get to ask more questions, interact with classmates and conveniently speak with academics as the ratio of students to teachers is significantly smaller. Although studying at community college can differ quite a lot from attending university, the experience will be just as satisfying.
4. An affordable way to go to university
Students who study at community college often continue their degrees at their university of choice. All you need to do is speak to an advisor or a school counsellor who can tell you the best way to ensure your credits are transferrable to whatever degree you hope to pursue. You can even call up your prospective university and speak to an advisor to double check the requirements. Choosing the right classes to attend can save time and money as you know these credits will be accepted. It’s a faster and more affordable way to enter tertiary education, according to American Honors.
5. Choosing your majors
At community college, students have the privilege of choosing or dropping classes depending on where they’d like to focus, greatly relieving the pressure of having to make a decision that sets up the course of your life – something that can often happen at university. As college costs less, you won’t need to worry about changing subjects, but at university the rules are more rigid. Students who enter community college and later proceed to university tend to be a lot more focused, as they’ve already spent time honing in on their unique interests and passions.
If you think community college is something you’d like to explore a little further, here are three community colleges you should seriously consider…
ORANGE COAST COLLEGE, CALIFORNIA – USA
The Orange Coast College is one of the most popular community college in Southern California. It’s known as the number one college in terms of international student enrolment, providing students with the opportunity to meet new faces and learn about new cultures. Orange Coast is also the number one college in terms of the number of students it transfers to the University of California and California State University.
Image courtesy of Orange Coast College
The school’s 164-acre campus is equipped with great student facilities and technologies, and also provides more than 84 academic programmes with at least 2,000 classes per semester to ensure students can prepare for transfer to a university of their choice. With Orange Coast, the college has articulation or transfer agreements with nearly 100 universities including TAG (Transfer Admission Guarantee) with six UC campuses.
The college also offers 51 associate degrees and certificate programmes in Vocational Education. All the academic courses offered by the college are accredited by the Board of Governors of the California Community Colleges and by the State Department of Education. This fantastic community college is also home to former students such as actress Diane Keaton, actor Steven Segal, artist and fashion icon, Paul Frank and comedian Will Ferrell.
HIGHLINE COLLEGE, WASHINGTON – USA
While some students study at community college in order to progress to university, others do so to earn a degree or qualify to start work. Highline Community College gives students the chance to earn a bachelor’s degree right there and not have to transfer later on. It also offers other education services for those looking to earn a high school diploma or prepare for college-level courses. And with a variety of academic courses that include art, design, communication and languages, business, health and wellness and more, all students are spoilt for choice. The college also provides online, evening, weekend and hybrid classes to cater to people who are working full-time or have family commitments.
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VALENCIA COLLEGE, FLORIDA – USA
Winner of the Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence, Valencia college is renowned for providing quality education at an affordable price. The college works on rolling admission, meaning students can enrol anytime of year. It is ranked fourth in the country for the number of associate degrees awarded to students and boasts over 100 programmes that range from engineering to landscape and horticulture. Aside from its great academic courses, the college ensures students get the best experience a college can possibly offer. With more than 60 groups, clubs and organizations for students to take part in, as well as campus activities like film and music festivals, you’ll be able to make new friends and create great memories while pursuing your world-class tertiary education.
Feature image courtesy of Orange Coast College
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