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 $6,000 per year, and the tuition at a UC, which comes in at over $13,000. Tuition at private universities can be as much as $55,000 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 four-year universities.
  • You can gather credentials along the way to your Bachelor degree by completing Certificates and Associate 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 in California, and throughout the country, offer student housing. 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 Bachelors degree, you have a better chance of being accepted to a UC (and many other four year universities) as a transfer student from a California community college. And remember, your eventual Bachelors degree from the 4-year university won’t look any different than the degree of students who started there!

So, in any year I tell my families that community college is a great option and not just a backup option. And, with the uncertainty of Covid still lingering before us (a few four-year universities have already indicated that they are making plans to not start in-person learning until January of 2022), starting at a community college may be an even better option. Smaller campuses are more agile and may be able to start in-person learning sooner than larger campuses. Furthermore, if new strains of Covid cause schools to resume remote learning next year, taking Zoom courses with fewer students, and at a lower price, just makes sense.

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 associates degrees are offered at your local community college as well as others you are considering. Then, if your goal is to transfer to a four-year university, make sure that you take the right courses so that you complete an Associate 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.

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