Why You Should Attend Community College for a Degree

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Attending community college offers an accessible way for individuals to achieve their goals. Learners can earn associate degrees and certificates on a budget and even with a low high school GPA.

According to 2019 data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, associate degree-holders earn a median income of $887 per week. This exceeds the high school graduate median income of $746 per week. Additionally, the unemployment rate stands at 2.7% for associate degree-holders compared to 3.7% for those without one.

Continue reading to learn about the downsides and benefits of community college and what you should know before enrolling.

Questions People Ask Before Attending Community College

  • Q. How long does it take to earn a degree at a community college?

    Earning a community college degree takes full-time learners about two years. However, this exact number varies based on a program’s credit requirements.

  • Q. Can you get a good job if you go to community college?

    Many high-paying jobs require only an associate degree, which community colleges offer. For other positions, students can easily transfer their community college credits to a four-year school to finish a bachelor’s degree.

  • Q. How can I finish community college faster?

    Completing dual enrollment courses for college credit in high school, attending school full-time, and selecting an accelerated program all help students finish their associate degree faster.

  • Q. Does community college look bad on a resume?

    Students who attend a community college with current accreditation typically experience career success. A resume includes more than just educational experience, and students can enhance theirs with volunteer and work experience.

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Benefits of Attending for a Degree

Attending community college offers an affordable way to achieve career goals.
Community colleges often charge in-state students less because the local government provides funding. Community college campuses typically maintain fewer buildings, reducing overhead.
Community colleges offer open-access admission.
Generally, community colleges do not set minimum GPA requirements. They admit any individual with a high school or GED diploma. Learners with poor high school GPAs can attend community college to improve their academic qualifications for a bachelor’s program.
These institutions feature a diverse student body.
With such an inclusive acceptance policy, community college courses often include students from varying backgrounds. As a result, learners hear diverse perspectives during class discussions and build a unique network of professional connections.
A community college degree typically transfers well.
An associate degree from a two-year college usually transfers better than a collection of loose credits from a traditional four-year school. Credits generally transfer seamlessly from a community college to a transfer receiving school in the same region.
Community colleges provide hands-on experience.
Community colleges offer a few technical degrees and partner with local businesses for learning opportunities. Students pursuing traditional or vocational degrees receive hands-on experience through apprenticeships and internships that count towards college credit.

Downsides of Attending for a Degree

These institutions offer fewer traditional college experiences.
Students attending one of these schools do not get to live in a dorm or rush a sorority or fraternity. Most community colleges do not offer study abroad and provide fewer extracurricular opportunities.
Certain competitive schools do not accept credits from community colleges.
Private institutions and Ivy League schools might not allow credit transfers from community colleges. Even if a school accepts transfer credits, they may only transfer as electives. Students should research their desired school’s policies.
Community colleges do not offer as many majors.
These educational institutions commonly offer a slimmer selection of courses and degree topics.
Community colleges often require fewer education credentials for instructors.
Individuals can become full-time community college professors with only a master’s degree in most cases. Full-time professors at competitive traditional colleges usually possess at least a doctorate.

What You Should Know Before Pursuing an Associate Degree?

Before deciding to pursue an associate degree, learners should make a financial plan and research the prospective school. The plan should include projected income, living expenses, tuition, and incidentals. This plan should also incorporate what financial aid will cover and remaining out-of-pocket expenses.

Learners should also know what they want to study before attending a two-year college. This prevents them from wasting time and money on unnecessary classes. Use online resources like this guide to find a major.

Students should also research online programs and accelerated options before enrolling in a community college. These flexible learning formats benefit busy working professionals and full-time learners wanting to enter the workforce quickly.

While many community colleges provide most of this information online, prospective students should contact the school’s admissions department to learn more.

Portrait of Tessa Cooper

Tessa Cooper

Tessa Cooper is a freelance writer and editor who regularly contributes to international and regional publications focused on education and lifestyle topics. She earned a bachelor’s in public relations from Missouri State University and is passionate about helping learners avoid high student loan debt while pursuing their dream major. Tessa loves writing about travel and food topics and is always planning her next meal or vacation.

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