Editor’s Note: If you’re considering community college, use HackCollege’s School Finder to search for schools in your area.

Just graduated from high school and not sure whether or not college is for you? Maybe you’re confused about what you want to do with your life and want to take some time to explore different options. Or perhaps you’re one of the millions of adults who never got the chance to get a college degree and you want to go back to school.

If any of these sounds like you, attending a local community college might be the route for you.

Save Money

One of the biggest reasons to attend community college over a four-year university is that it’s A LOT cheaper. Depending on your school, you could sign up for an entire semester’s worth of classes for the same price of just one class at a university.

In fact, the cost of your entire two years at community college could be less than one semester at some universities. According to this report from Breakthrough Collaborative, community colleges cost less than half the price of public four-year universities and 1/10th the cost of private institutions on average.

Also, most students tend to go to community college near the city they live in. This makes you eligible for in-state tuition. In-state tuition has also helped make college affordable for illegal immigrants. Add in the fact that most students who attend community college right out of high school live at home and you’re rolling back prices like Wal-Mart.

Related5 Reasons You Should Consider an Online College

Test the Water

There are many people who flat out believe that college isn’t for everyone and there are statistics to support it. In the U.S, only 56 percent of students at a four-year university graduate within the first six years. Twenty-nine percent of students enrolled in two-year colleges (community colleges) graduate within the first three years.

Community college is kind of like a bridge between high school and a four-year university. You get a lot of the freedom of a university, such as choosing your own schedule, coming and going as you please, and pretty much being able to make all of your own decisions educationally. However, you don’t get the huge auditorium-sized classes of universities and the course load isn’t as heavy.

Since community college is cheaper, it’s not as big of a commitment. You can take the time to find out exactly what course of study you want to pursue without the fear of wasting tens of thousands of dollars. Community colleges typically offer a wide range of classes and majors, so you can really experiment and find out if college is a fit for you.

Then, there’s the group of students who simply aren’t prepared to jump right out of high school, leave home, and go to a university. For those students, community college acts as a buffer or test to see if they’re cut out for a four-year university.

More Attention

Community colleges have much smaller class sizes than universities. This allows them to give more attention to students and get them help when needed. This is great for students who may have struggled academically in high school. Because the class sizes in universities are so much larger, many professors simply don’t have the time and resources to allocate to several individuals.

Most community colleges know that they are seen as transitional schools, so their curriculum and structure is designed to help prepare students to transfer after 2-3 years. This is done by helping to improve their study habits, give them more independence when it comes to completing assignments, but also being available to help students who are struggling.

Most professors at community colleges make themselves available for one-on-one sessions if necessary and have office hours where students can freely come in for help.

Flexible Scheduling

If you intend on working full-time while attending classes full time, community college makes a lot of sense. Most four-year universities schedule a majority of their classes during the day. Community colleges offer many evening and online classes in addition to the day time ones. This is done for a couple of reasons:

  • For one, there are a lot of adults who have been working for years and want to go back and get a degree. (This could be for personal or financial reasons.) Night classes give them the chance to keep their job and take classes in the evenings. Secondly, many of the professors who teach at community college are retired, have full time positions during the day, or only work as adjunct faculty.
  • Online classes also help students who might have work or other obligations attend school full-time – even if they can’t physically make it to all of their classes. There is no distinction made on your transcript between classes you took online or in person and there’s no shortage of scheduling options for community college students.

RelatedTransferring to a University from a Community College

Transfer Credits to a University

When you get your college career started at a community college, you can transfer the credits you’ve earned to a four-year university. This saves you money and allows you to knock out your basic requirements at community college instead of a university.

Some community colleges also have guaranteed admissions agreements with local universities as long as you meet their basic requirements. This means you don’t have to worry about your score on a standardized test determining whether or not you get accepted.

Community colleges have counselors that will help you with the transferring process from day one. The counselor will tell you what you need to do in order be eligible and what you have to do upon graduation. It’s a great option all around; in fact, President Obama referred to them as the “unsung heroes” or our educational system.

So whether you’re just out of high school or looking to return to school for a degree, community college is a great option to consider.


Image: Lower Columbia College