Why community college is the smart path for students


Photo courtesy of Getty Images. Students in classroom.

The typical educational route consists of graduating from high school and then moving on to a four-year university. When deciding which college to attend, the prestige and popularity of universities have come to play an influential role. Some individuals have come to feel burdened by the question of “which college are you going to” as societal expectations and pressures have been placed among students to attend elite universities. Thus, the community college route is often not considered as students seek to keep up with their peers andpursuit of being accepted by the highest-ranked universities.

As a community college student, I found myself having to patrol my thoughts and insecurities that came with attending community college right after high school. Friends and family eagerly asked which university I would be attending, only for me to tell them that I would be attending our local community college and then transferring to a university from there. Although I was confident in my decision, I still felt as though there was an expectation to attend an elite university–or at least any university for that matter–and if I did not, then I was inferior. Nonetheless, I came to realize that prestige and popularity are overrated. I find myself today, prepared and eagerly awaiting to transfer to university this spring with complete satisfaction and confidence in the process it took to get here.

Through attending community college, I reaped the many benefits of saving money, increasing my chances of admittance into university and solidifying my career choice. As an EDGE/plEDGE student at College of the Desert, my community college education has been entirely paid for. Thus, I saved on two full years of tuition and fees all the while completing my general education and obtaining my associate degree, which has lessened my overall college debt.

In addition to the economic benefits of attending community college, there are also selective colleges that accept more transfer students than incoming freshmen–with some admission chances nearly doubling. At the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, the freshman acceptance rate is 27% while the transfer acceptance rate is 45%. For Vanderbilt University, the freshman acceptance rate is 11% while the transfer acceptance rate jumps to 29%.

Community colleges in California provide additional perks for transfer students. The California State University system offers a “Degree with a Guarantee” whereby students with an ADT degree–associate degree for transfer–who meet the CSU’s minimum eligibility requirements are guaranteed priority admission to a CSU campus. California Community Colleges summarizes this opportunity as “start at a community college, transfer to a guaranteed saved spot at a participating four-year university and earn a bachelor’s degree.”

At community college, students are also allowed to explore different majors and interests before having to declare a major at a university. Thus, they can experiment with different courses and solidify their area/s of interest–while also completing the required general education courses–at a lower cost than universities. Not to mention, the class sizes at community colleges are often much smaller than at universities, providing a more intimate learning experience. According to Wayne County Community College District, “The average community college class size is 25-35 students. In contrast, some introductory-level courses at universities are in lecture halls with 150-300 or more students in a class.”

Although the stigma surrounding community college and its inferiority remain prevalent in modern society, the benefits must not be overlooked. From being more affordable to offer a more intimate learning experience, community college provides a notable educational experience that should be considered more closely amongst high school graduates and society as a whole.