When it comes to choosing colleges, one of your main decisions may be to either stay home and commute to a nearby community college or to go away. There is definitely no right or wrong answer and it really just depends on the individual person.
You can definitely be successful either way.
No matter what you do, you’ll have a degree and that is the goal.
Don’t let anybody try to control what you’re doing and tell you what kind of decision you should be making. This is one of the first times you’re going to be making big decisions for yourself that really determine things that will impact your future. There are many different factors that go into making this decision.
This is the kind of decision that you have to make based off of yourself and not off of what everybody else wants you to do. In the end, you want the best experience and the most success for yourself. These are definitely not the only things that you need to look into, but here are a few different pros and cons of going to community college.
This article is not to explain to you why going to community college is good or bad. It is simply just to help you with some of the factors that may go into your decision to go to a community college.
I cannot tell you what the right decision to make. All I can do is give you some tips and use some personal information based off of my own experiences. I can also give you some of the experiences and stories that I have heard from my friends and other people in my life.
Cost to Go is Less (Save Big)
Obviously, the biggest pro of choosing to go to a community college is that it is way cheaper and you’re saving a lot of money. Going to a community college could definitely be the difference between having no debt and having thousands and thousands of dollars in debt.
Currently, I am paying $27,000 a year for college and my friends who are attending a community college are paying around $8000.
Now granted, this is obviously without any aid or scholarships which usually takes down the cost of college a lot. Now, of course, one of the main reasons why my cost is so much higher is due to room and board.
With community colleges, most people who go to one will choose to commute and live at home. Obviously, if they are going to be paying for an apartment or some sort of housing the overall price of college, in general, would be higher due to the housing.
This is a big factor when it comes to choosing colleges because not everybody has help paying for college. I completely understand this and I understand why choosing to go to a community college is better for many students.
However, I don’t think that if you don’t have anyone helping you for college this is your only option. It is very easy to get a lot of help through scholarships and aid going to a standard college or university. It is also easy to take out a student loan.
Save on Cost of Living
Another obvious thing that has to do with money is housing. If you go to a community college you will not have to pay for housing. I mean, there are definitely some people who still choose to move out into an apartment or do some other housing. Most of the time a community college student would decide to commute from their parents’ house while attending school. This will save a ton of money on room and board.
That usually means they will also save money on food since they are still living in the same house as her parents. You obviously are going to have certain types of bills and things to pay for, but you just may be saving a lot of money on room and board compared to somebody who’s going away to college.
Adding to this another main reason that people may choose to go to community college is that they have no idea what they want to major in. I don’t see the point in spending money when they’re not sure what path they are going to take yet.
I think that this is an absolutely great idea and a great way to think about college.
Basically, if you think about it you can go to a community college to get your general education courses and spend less money. Then, once you realize what you want to actually do you can transfer somewhere that has a good program for your specific major.
Flexibility with your Academics
You can go at your own pace at a community college. Taking fewer classes will help you ease into college. The studying is really different then what most people are used to in high school.
The classes are smaller with more hands-on from the professor. This can really help if you struggled in high school with grades.
About 60% of students that attend community colleges go part-time. Many of these students have full-time jobs to help pay for all the costs of going to college. If you are balancing a family and career while going back to school then a community college is a really solid option. Most students are currently using community schools in this manner.
Transfer to 4 Year College
Most community colleges you can now transfer your credits to get a 4-year degree. You need to make sure of this if you know the university you want to transfer to for the 4-year degree.
Start at a community college and transfer to get your bachelor’s degree if the community college does not offer a bachelor’s. Some community colleges are now offering bachelor degrees in certain majors.
Certificates in IT and More
I had a friend get Cisco and Microsoft certified then got a job at a Fortune 100 company in their IT department. He went back and got a degree in IT years later. He made really good money just getting specialized certificates.
Maybe getting a few certificates in IT or electronics will get you a great job to then support a family and continue with getting a bachelor’s degree.
My friend got a 2-year degree in respiratory therapy and makes $85,000 a year in an occupation in high demand. Some of these two-year programs pay really well so don’t rule out just getting an associates degree. You can always go back for a bachelors degree later.
The reasons to go to a community college include:
- You will save a bunch of money on tuition
- Undecided major so you can knock out the prerequisite classes
- Financial aid options
- Really flexible with class options and time
- Able to transfer credits to a 4-year university
- Close to home so save on food and boarding
- Avoid homesickness if you commute from home
- Certificates for IT and electronics
- Easy to commute
This is obviously nothing that you have to do it is just a thought and I’ve had many friends that have successfully gone to a community college.
Full College Experience/ Opportunities
One of the only downsides that I can say about community college is definitely just the overall experience. Going away to college lets you live on your own and learn new things. It puts you in an environment to meet thousands of thousands of new people, network, and make so many connections that you would’ve never had the opportunity to.
It also gives you many different opportunities depending on where you go but many schools help you get internships, jobs, and careers. Who knows, you may start working for a company that you end up staying with after college.
You may have an internship that leads to a huge job offer.
You may meet a professor who you become close with and opens many doors for you. Obviously, this doesn’t mean that you’re not going to meet people and have opportunities even if you go to a community college.
There may be bigger and larger opportunities if you go away to college. Now when I say go away to college, I don’t mean that you need to go to college three hours away, I’m simply referring to going to a college or university that isn’t classified as a community college.
If you feel that you wouldn’t really like the traditional college environment, then a community college is definitely the best option for you. Going away to college definitely isn’t for everyone. A degree is a degree so do not let anybody tell you differently.
Going to a community college you will be limited in classes you can take. This is especially true for students looking for a 4-year degree. You will have to transfer to a local college to get a bachelor’s degree.
Study Habits / Workload
Community colleges are sometimes easier with the course work being not as hard as a 4-year college. You will learn and the education you receive will prepare you for work or going to a 4-year program. When moving to a 4-year college to get a bachelor’s degree the coursework will be harder. This means you will also have to study much more than you did at a community college.
You need to be prepared that the work will be much more.
Extracurricular Sports and Clubs
You will have less to do at a community college when it comes to clubs and sports. These are smaller colleges and they just do not have the facilities that a bigger university would have. I had a friend play on the basketball team for his community college so they do have sports but it is limited.
People / Friends
I touched on this previously, one of the best parts of going to college is making new friends and meeting new people. This is the type of thing that you can’t replace.
Meeting people who decided that they wanted to live in the same place as you and get the same education as you for four years. You already have so much in common and it just leads to great friendships, connections, and opportunities.
I am not telling you that this is the best option or anything, I’m just reminding you of some of the different aspects that go into making your decision.
You will make great friends at a community college it is just different. Living on campus provides a whole different aspect than living at home and traveling to school.
If you are looking for a community college near you check out this US News site with a list by state.
The reason Community College may not be for you:
- You will net get the full college atmosphere and experience
- Internships you could have more opportunities at a 4-year college or university
- The curriculum would be limited since it is not a 4-year university
- Schoolwork will not be as difficult so you need to be aware when transferring
- Fewer clubs, sports, and extracurricular activities
- Hard to connect with people since many students commute
Overall there are so many different things that go into making this big decision. You really just need to sit down and decide what you think is going to be best for yourself.
In the end, all that really matters is your education and your time spent while doing it. If you think that the best decision that you can make is to save money, then stay at home, and go to a community college or local college. Don’t let your parents or anyone else tell you what to do because, in the end, the only way you can make the right decision is to listen to your gut with added logic.
Don’t be afraid to take out loans and go away to college, but also don’t be afraid to stay home and save money. In the end, this is all about you and the decisions that lead to the rest of your life.
You can also check out our article on the pros and cons of going into college undecided.