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As broken down in an article by Community College Daily, according to a new report from the Community College Research Center (CCRC), earning a few community college credits can benefit four-year college students’ academic, STEM, and employment outcomes without increasing their student loan debt
Four-year college students who took one to 10 credits at a two-year college had a 4.5 percentage point higher bachelor’s degree completion rate than four-year college students who earned no community college credits, the report says. They also earned $1.40 more per hour.
The report notes several ways extra courses at a community college can benefit four-year college students, including:
Increased course options and availability
Students can take courses that are not offered in a particular semester or are in conflict with their course schedule at their four-year college. Two-year colleges also are more geographically accessible and offer more flexible schedules, often offering some courses year-round. In addition, four-year students can potentially reduce time-to-degree by taking two-year courses in the summer or outside of four-year class time.
The cost factor may encourage students to take some electives or prerequisite courses to lower their overall baccalaureate education bill.
Community colleges offer smaller classes with more personal attention. Supplemental enrollment also may serve as a strategy for accruing STEM credits, particularly for students from subgroups traditionally underrepresented in STEM.
Top Five Benefits of Community College
1. It’s More Affordable
Overall, tuition is going to be significantly cheaper at a community college than it will be at a university.
According to the U.S. Department of Education, the average annual cost for a four-year public institution was $19,488 during the 2015-2016 school year (the most recent federal data available). That’s nearly double the $10,091 average cost for a two-year institution in the same academic year.
2. There Are Smaller Classes
Generally, you’ll get more individual attention at a community college thanks to smaller class sizes. This is especially true for general education classes you’d typically take as a freshman and sophomore.
3. You’ll Have More Flexibility
Community colleges are used to accommodating the busy schedules of full-time workers and parents. If you have a family or job that you have to balance while taking classes, you’ll find more flexibility at a community college than a state university. Between night classes and online courses, you’re more likely to find a schedule that works for you.
4. You Can Transfer Your Credits
No matter where you decide to begin your education, you can always graduate elsewhere. Most states have a transfer program set up so that you can attend a community college for your first two years and finish your degree at a bigger school.
5. You’ll Have More Job Opportunities
Continuing your education in any capacity will pave the way for more job opportunities.
If you don’t have a college degree in the field you’re pursuing, attending a community college will almost definitely open more doors for you in the job market. In fact, there are several high-paying jobs that don’t require a four-year college degree.
Why Community Colleges Are A Better Alternative Than A Gap Year
COVID-19 has disrupted many of our lives, especially high school seniors who were excited to graduate and begin a new chapter at a university in the fall.
Here are five reasons why High School seniors should consider choosing going to a community college over a gap year.
1. Get a head start
If you’re not comfortable heading straight into a university just yet, and a gap year no longer seems promising, take the opportunity to check those required general education courses off your list at a community college this summer and fall.
2. Closer to home
Leaving home to travel or volunteer for a gap year, or packing up and moving your belongings to a university out of state, may limit your ability to easily get home to your family in case of possible shelter-in-place orders. Community colleges are located within your community and easily accessible with a short drive or if you need to remain home, by a click of a mouse. Being closer to home also gives you assurance that you’ll be able to take care of yourself or a loved one if they were to become ill.
3. Quality education at an affordable price
COVID-19 has caused economic insecurity for many of us, and you, as well as your parents, may not be ready for the financial burden of a high tuition bill. While a normal gap year would offer more job opportunities and time to save up money, the current pandemic has decreased job openings and increased competition.
Community colleges are known for their affordability due to no campus housing fees, food plans and other overhead costs associated with a larger university, as well as more opportunities for students to qualify for financial aid like scholarships and grants.
4. Adaptive and accommodating
Due to their smaller sizes, community colleges can shift and adapt quickly, whether it’s to offer new in-demand academic programs or career training, or if it’s to swiftly accommodate students and offer different modes of instruction during a pandemic.
5. Your safety is priority
Choosing a gap year may feel like the safest alternative to living in the dorms or sitting in large lecture halls, but lessening your human contact doesn’t have to mean placing your college dreams on hold. Community colleges are able to really tap into students’ concerns and provide answers and reassurance when it comes to their safety and academic experience.