Students Should Consider Community Colleges

Article excerpt

Byline: Rose Rennekamp

Should your teen start college at a community college?

When someone tells you that their teenager is going to college, what comes to mind? Perhaps ivy-covered buildings and tall marble columns; a traditional four-year college or university. If this is your image, it might surprise you to learn that nearly half of all college freshmen are enrolled in a community college.

Is it the right step for your student?

Community colleges used to be known as "junior colleges," and the common perception was that their students got a second-rate education. Now, community colleges provide education and opportunity for anyone from recent high school graduates to 30- somethings looking to pick up some new job skills to 40-somethings looking to change careers.

Many community colleges and universities have formed partnerships, allowing students to transfer credits and sometimes grades earned at the community college toward a degree program at the four-year school. This can encourage students who may not be academically or emotionally ready to go to a four-year school. It's also good news for students who are afraid they can't afford a college education.

If the high cost of a college education causes you to lose sleep, your local community college could be an answer. The average cost of tuition and fees for a full-time student at a community college is about $2,000 per year. Compare that to more than $4,500 for in-state students at a public four-year college or university. The costs at private colleges are higher still.

Granted, financial aid can lessen the impact of high college costs, but some financial aid can also go toward a community college education. Not to mention the fact that you can save money on room and board if your student lives at home while attending community college.

Another consideration may be the kinds of classes they can take at a community college. Class sizes are often smaller, especially for the general education requirements like English, math or science. Larger universities and colleges sometimes put hundreds of freshmen into a political science or biology lecture. …