Community college is a great way to transition from a high school to a college atmosphere, or to get your associates degree, but before you go, you should consider both the pros and cons of community college. If you're currently a senior in high school, it's time to make some big decisions regarding community college, a career, or university. Deciding on where you go after graduation isn't a light task in any way, but if you weigh the pros and cons of community college, you may have an easier time making a decision. Wherever your life takes you, you should be happy there and not regret the decisions you made in high school that will have a long-lasting and far-reaching effect on your life.
1. Pro: Distance
While there are a number of pros and cons of community college, one of the most significant benefits of community college is that the distance from your home to the college is not so great. Usually, community college students can commute from home to school daily, without burning through too much gas. Being so close to your family will help you ease into independence, instead of living in a dorm and being forced to spread your wings and fly before you're ready. Plus, you'll be living in an area you're familiar with, so chances are you won't get lost or feel confused the way you would in an unfamiliar college town.
2. Con: Distance
Being close to your family is great, but it isn’t exactly part of the traditional college experience. If you have the option of attending a four year university, one reason to take that path is that there you can get a real taste of independence. You’ll have no watchful parents to examine your every decision or enforce any rules. Of course, you should try your best to abide by the morals your parents instilled in you as a child, but you should be free to make your own mistakes and learn from them during your young adult years. Also, being far away from home will force you to meet new people and build new friendships you wouldn’t otherwise make!
3. Pro: Cost
Unless you receive enough scholarship funding, it’s pretty difficult to bridge the tuition gap between community college and university tuition. Even if you attend a state school, you’ll end up paying much more than you would at a community college. If you or your family struggle financially, or you simply don’t want to graduate college up to your eyeballs in school loans, it’s probably wiser to attend community college. You’ll still receive an amazing education, but you’ll have a few extra years to save up for the future.
4. Con: Lack of Campus Life
At a university, you’re bound to find your own niche somewhere, whether it’s in a sport, club, or sorority. While community colleges may offer these as well, they aren’t exactly known for their thriving campus lives. If you’re looking for a well-rounded college experience, you should probably opt to attend a four-year college rather than a community college.
5. Pro: Time to Think
Since classes are less expensive at community college, you’ll have the freedom to explore different fields of study a bit more than you would as a full-time student at a university. Community college is a great place to think and decide what you think you’ll want to do with your life. You don’t necessarily need to work toward a major at a community college either, so while four-year schools would encourage physics majors to stick to physics, you can take dance, physics, and creative writing all in one term with no disapproving looks from your counselor!
6. Pro: Transferrable Classes
Another pro of community college is that a majority of the classes you pass will be transferrable to the university you attend after you complete your AA degree, if you choose to enroll in a four-year school later on. That means that during your transition from high school to college life, you won’t be wasting any time! Everything you do at a community college will help you in some way in the future. So if you’re deciding between taking the year off or taking a few classes at a community college, you should definitely choose that second option, rather than make little progress toward your goals for an entire year!
7. Con: Fewer Devoted Students
I don’t mean to shame community college students in any way, because many of them are devoted to learning and making progress toward a degree. All of my sisters attended community college, and were extremely devoted students, however that isn’t the case with everyone. You’re bound to find a higher concentration of devoted students in a private or state college than in a community college. While the majority of students at a four year school are working toward a degree, students at a community college may just be there learn a new subject for the sake of intellectual growth. If you want to thrive in college, you need to be surrounded by likeminded students, which you'll find more of in a university.
8. Pro: Adjust to College Atmosphere
No matter how rigorous the courses you took in high school were, they were never the equivalent of college classes. Not to say that Theater 101 will be more difficult than the AP Physics class you took in high school, but the style and structure of college classes is completely different than those in high school. Professors are not teachers, and college students are not high school students. So launching straight into a university might be too sudden of a transition for you, as it is for many students. Community college eases this transition, with their smaller class sizes, comparable to the sizes of your high school classes, and accessible professors. Still, these are college courses, so slowly but surely you’ll adapt to college-style learning.
9. Con: Starting All over
By the time you decide to attend community college, you’ve probably applied to a number of universities and community colleges. But once you graduate community college, if you choose to attend a university, you’ll need to start that process all over, without the aid of your cheerful high school counselor. You’ll have to obtain transcripts, pay tuition fees, and write up college essays all over again. Once you attend a new college, you’ll also need to adjust to that world, which will be a lot different from the community college world you’ve been living in. So while your years at a community college will likely be enjoyable, in the end you’ll have to relive all of the hectic parts of senior year!
Every teen has to face the future at some point, and decide where her life is going from there. If you’re at that point in your life right now, or are approaching it, I hope I’ve helped you make some decisions regarding community college. If you’ve attended community college in the past or are there now, what advice do you have for high school students considering community college?