Benefit of Starting at Community College

Applying to College, Miscellaneous, Saving Money

Families that work with me know that I rave about the benefits of starting the college experience at a community college. Here are some of the tangible benefits:

  • Economically, you simply can’t beat the cost of attendance at a community college. Tuition for in-state students is typically under $1,300 per year. Compare this to tuition at a CSU, which comes in at about $7,000 per year, and the tuition at a UC, which comes in at about $14,000. Tuition at private universities can be as much as $60,000 per year.
  • You can get a more personal education in your freshman and sophomore courses. At a community college you will likely be in classes with under 30 students, instead of hundreds of students at many 4-year universities.
  • You can gather credentials along the way to your Bachelor’s degree by completing Certificates and Associate’s Degrees in targeted fields. This could allow you to take a pause and get high paying jobs in areas like healthcare, landscape design, veterinary technician, marketing, and accounting.
  • You can go away to community college! Many community colleges have housing options for students near the campus. For example, Santa Barbara City College is one of the top community colleges in the country, and it offers private dorms adjacent to the college.
  • If you want to finish your Bachelor’s degree, you have a better chance of being accepted to a UC (and many other 4-year universities) as a transfer student from a California community college. And remember, your eventual Bachelor’s degree from the 4-year university won’t look any different than the degree of students who started there!

So, I frequently tell my families that community college is a great option and not just a backup option.

The key to being successful at community college is to PLAN well.  Determine if you want to live at (or near) home or if you’re up for going away. Research which certificates and Associate’s degrees are offered at your local community college as well as others you are considering. Then, if your goal is to transfer to a 4-year university, make sure that you take the right courses so that you complete an Associate’s Degree for Transfer (applicable if you plan to transfer to a CSU), a Transfer Admission Guarantee program (applicable if you plan to transfer to a UC), or the curriculum required by the school(s) you are targeting. This can be done by researching their Articulation Agreements (courses that will transfer and meet their pre-requisites for admission). If you’re not sure where you’ll want to transfer later, your best bet is likely taking courses that meet the Intersegmental General Education Transfer Curriculum (IGETC).

If you would like more information or guidance on transfer opportunities, please contact On My Way Consulting to set up an appointment with me.