Community College: Is It For Me?
Join the millions of other adult learners advancing their careers at community colleges.
According to the National Center for Educational Statistics, community colleges make up over 44% of the educational institutions in the United States.
The popularity of these institutions only continues to grow with an increased number of adult programs and new bachelor’s degree programs.
But why are these schools so popular?
Let’s explore the pros and cons of community colleges and how the community college system might fit your needs.
Community colleges are present in almost every local community in the country. With over 1700 two-year colleges nationwide, community colleges provide the convenience and accessibility that many busy adult learners need. Not only do community colleges have flexible scheduling, including night and weekend coursework, but many offer online courses or self-paced classes for those who prefer to learn at home.
Aside from convenient class times and locations, community colleges also have flexible program options. Students can enroll in a wide variety of programs, from GED to certificate to associate’s degree programs, and even four-year bachelor’s degree programs that challenge traditional four-year college degrees. And students can learn at their own rates as well, taking one class a week or speeding through their coursework with an accelerated degree program.
Community colleges are known for their relatively inexpensive classes. According to the American Association for Community Colleges, full-time tuition at community colleges cost an average of $2,361, while four-year colleges average $7,605 per year. Additionally, community college classes can cost as little as $20 per credit hour in some states.
The best community colleges in the US offer a variety of programs and class options, but all of these options are designed for practical application. Community college students learn skills that they can use and, community colleges also strive to give students skills they will need to enter and succeed in a changing workforce.
Community colleges are geared towards serving the needs of non-traditional students. A large portion of that subsection is adult learners. Not only does this mean that community colleges understand the needs and busy schedules of adult learns, but it also means that they make it easier for adult learners to go back to school.
Since adult education programs are an integral in the community college culture, the best community colleges also offer the services and support that makes it easy for students to succeed. From tutoring, to financial aid, to day-care services, community colleges strive to make getting your degree as easy and painless as possible.
Downsides of Community Colleges
With all their benefits, you might think community colleges are a slam dunk. Unfortunately, as many community colleges are financed at the state level, community colleges have been hit by many of the budget problems facing states. In some cases, this has led to increased tuition, cuts in programs and offerings and other shortfalls.
While this downside, hasn’t taken anything away from the great educational opportunities offered at community colleges, you’ll want to check with your local community college system to make sure it offers what you need.
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