Is Community College for You?

Nick Meyle, Staff Writer

 

Courtesy of Nick Meyle

There are hundreds of different paths to take after high school. Trade school, transitioning right into employment and joining the military are a few of the options. However most Michigan students will opt to go to a university or college. Around 61 percent of young Michiganders graduating high school will end up at some sort of educational institution. One very savvy idea is to attend a community college.

Community colleges are two year educational institutions that offer Associates Degrees. Most regions of the state have at least one. Kalamazoo Valley in Kalamazoo, Glen Oaks in Centreville and Kellogg in Battle Creek are some of the community colleges in our area. Usually these have 100 percent acceptance rates, which makes going to one of these a good idea for a number of reasons. Even if your field requires education beyond an Associates, the benefits of starting at community college are also immense.

As the setting of a community college is usually locally based, oftentimes the campus and classes are smaller than that of a university. On average, there are anywhere from 25 to 35 students in one class at a community college. This can be smaller than the average class size at some high schools. These numbers can allow more one-on-one time with the professor and the ability to get to know your fellow students better, which can lead to positive relationships and a more comfortable time learning. In addition, most degree programs are able to transfer if necessary, meaning you won’t have to worry about losing credits or having to retake classes once at a university.

Possibly the biggest reason to attend community college has to do with the dollar signs. Financing the furthering of your education is an expensive task and is generating a lot of talk in the media and government. But for now and the foreseeable future, the way that many folks go about paying for college is through student loans. Sometimes students have to borrow up to $50,000 or more — not including interest — to attend a university. Community college provides a way around this. In Michigan, the average four year university costs around $19,000 a year to attend. The average cost for a Michigan community college is around $5,500 a year. That is a difference of $13,500. It may not seem like a lot at first, but the numbers quickly add up. Using these figures, after two years at a university you would pay $38,000. After two years at community college the price tag would be $11,000. This difference is $27,000. Due to the major reduction in cost, many community college students do not have to even take out loans, and if they do, then paying them is much less damaging. 

While community college does lack the dorm and sports experience, the overall benefits outweigh the drawbacks. Of course, however, everyone needs to make the decision for themselves. For some, going right into a four year university is the best thing for them. But for many, attending a community college is a very smart and viable option. It is something that everyone should look at and determine what will contribute the most to their success as an individual.