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Is there Value to Starting My College Experience at a Community College?

In these times of economic uncertainty, many students are considering community college as a way to save money on higher education and reduce debt. You may wonder if a two-year or if investing in a four-year institution from the very beginning is a better way to go. Obtaining an Associate’s degree prior to moving on for a Bachelor’s is actually a good idea for several reasons. Let’s take a look at the benefits this approach can offer.

Significant Savings

You probably already know that a two-year college is cheaper than a four-year institution. You may not have considered some of the other cost savings you can benefit from when deciding to attend a junior college close to home. On-campus living expenses, along with dining plans, are very expensive and contribute a great deal to the overall cost of a college or university. Commuting to a two-year school while continuing to live at home will save you money.

Another cost-saving component that many entering freshmen don’t know about is that you will be required to take what are known as “liberal studies” courses, along with the classes in your major. These courses are usually similar at both types of school and can be transferred from one to the other. Thus, it makes sense to take liberal studies classes like math, science, English composition, physical education and humanities at the lower-price offered by community colleges rather than paying double or triple the cost at a university for essentially the same classes.

Second Chances

If you’re a student who may not have excelled academically in high school, attending community college can give you a fresh start. As you mature, you may be more prepared to dedicate time and effort to your academic pursuits. Transcripts from your Associate’s degree will be taken into consideration when applying for the college or university of your choice, improving your chances for acceptance. In addition, if you are lacking in math, English or reading skills, it is possible to enroll in remedial coursework your first semester of college in order to receive a refresher on your academic foundation. Often, students who struggled in high school experience tremendous academic growth in college.

Major Exploration

It’s not unusual for students to be unsure of what to study. Choosing a major can be a complicated task. This is a time of developmental exploration, and a two-year college offers a great opportunity to explore your options at a much lower price-tag than a private or public university. In fact, you don’t even have to choose a major. You can earn an Associate’s degree in General Studies or similar named program that will likely transfer toward your Bachelor’s program requirements. Very often you can take classes that interest you that will count toward graduation while giving you practical knowledge of a certain industry or career field.

There really are few downsides to attending a two-year institution. Community college offers a good return on your education investment that allows you to learn, grow and take those credits with you as you move on to advanced study.

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