4 Reasons to Consider Community College

By Jamie Dickenson

As an academic steppingstone or for further education, community colleges are a great option for students of all ages. Know the pros and cons before applying.

Does four more years of school sound terrible?

OK, then: Maybe two years is an easier “pill to swallow”. If that’s the case, consider community college.

Community colleges—where you can earn an associate’s degree in two years—can be a great academic steppingstone to a university education or they can be a place for students to take courses they need to earn a certificate and improve their job prospects. Or something in the middle of those two options.

West Virginia has 10 schools in its system of community and technical colleges that offer many advantages.

 

Advantages of Community and Technical Colleges

  • Quality education at a lower cost: $25,000 a year is an expensive experiment to determine if college is the right fit. Community colleges cost around $4,000 a year, offer traditional financial aid and qualify as a 529 expense.
  • Open enrollment: You can be admitted regardless of grade-point average or ACT and SAT scores (though some associate degrees require a certain GPA for admission to the program). You simply need a high school diploma or GED.
  • Ease into college at your own pace: With full and part time options, students can earn an associate’s degree in as little as two years or take one or two classes at a time if that suits them better. In fact, sixty percent of community college students choose to attend school part time.
  • Time to improve your transcript: For students who don’t have the grades needed to get into a university, attending a community college offers a second chance to improve their GPA before applying to university again.

 

Plan Ahead

Even though community colleges are very appealing, students may need to plan ahead when considering their future goals and timelines:

  • Limited course offerings: One of my students was finishing her degree and needed a class that wasn’t being offered until the following year. Needing that class to complete her degree, she was unable to transfer until she took that class.
  • Transferring credits can be a pain: While many universities accept community college credits, it’s possible that not all credits transfer. If you’re planning to attend community college for two years, before transferring to a four-year institution, it’s best to check which credits will be accepted beforehand. Students need to weigh the pros and cons, but community college can be an excellent next step in a person’s education.

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Jamie Dickenson, MBA, CEP
Independent Educational Consultant specializing in college admissions and financial aid, motivational speaker, business coach and owner of Jamie Dickenson, LLC., IEC Advisors, and Yoga Power, LLC.


Jamie Dickenson is not affiliated with Hartford Funds. Hartford Funds has separately contracted with Ms. Dickenson to provide additional insight about college savings issues.