Tip of the Week:
How to Choose a Community College
Whether you’re looking for a new career or to just brush up on some job skills, a community college is a great place to start. Community colleges are a great way to save money, earn college credits, or learn new skills. Many people start their academic careers at a community college before transferring to a four-year institution. Your local community college may even have a partnership with a university so you could earn a bachelor’s degree right on campus.
These colleges are also a fantastic option for students with family responsibilities, full-time jobs, or other obligations. Tuition is often far less expensive than at a large university.
There are plenty of things to consider when choosing a community college. Location, tuition costs, courses and ease of scheduling are all factors to keep in mind.
Research all the colleges in your area. The ideal community college should be no more than 30 minutes away and accessible by car or public transportation. You’ll be more likely to attend classes if it doesn’t take hours to get there. Typically, there is no or very limited on-campus living.
Cost is always a major factor. Many community colleges have two levels of tuition: one for in-area residents and one for out-of-area residents. If you live in the same county as the community college, you can expect to pay a third to half of what others pay. There might also be financial assistance available. Local businesses concentrate their resources on their local community colleges. They might provide scholarships for students. State and federal grants and loans can also help defray the costs of higher education.
Courses are another consideration when choosing a community college. Make sure your community college is accredited or has a cooperative partnership with local or state universities. There is nothing worse than attending college for two years only to find your credits aren’t transferrable.
If you find several community colleges offer your choice of major, research their internship program and reputation. Do they have employment statistics? Choosing a college with a higher employment rate could benefit you after graduation.
Most community colleges post their class schedules online or include a flyer with the local newspaper. You can also pick up a course catalogue from the college itself. Review their offerings. If you need to take classes in the late evening, are there enough available to make it worth attending that college? What about distance learning opportunities? Many colleges let students earn certificates or degrees completely online.
Non-traditional students may need a more flexible schedule. Classes may be offered several days of the week, in the morning or evening. Many colleges have weekend classes. Students who need to graduate quickly may take accelerated programs. You might simply need to earn a certification for a current or future job. Community colleges offer these programs as well. Be sure to ask your employer about tuition reimbursement.
Consider your lifestyle and personal requirements when choosing a community college. It is likely that a community college in your area will fit your needs and get you on your way to that promotion, new job, or just updated skills.