Community college is “one of America’s best-kept secrets” according to Second Lady Dr. Jill Biden. In the past, the stigma surrounding attending community colleges has overshadowed its strengths, but that’s beginning to change. Community colleges have a three-pronged mission: prepare students for transfer to four-year institutions, provide vocational training, and serve the community through continuing education efforts. It’s through the accomplishment of this mission that community colleges succeed, but there are several reasons to enroll that make attending community college a great choice.
- Lower costs
As the cost of higher education continually increases, the prospect of attending a traditional four-year institution is out of reach for many. But as US high school graduation rates improve, more people are choosing to attend community college to efficiently begin their college careers. On average, community college tuition costs 90% less than four-year for-profit institutions, and 84% less than four-year non-profit schools.
Community colleges are designed for people from varied backgrounds. Flexible course schedules meet the needs of part-time and full-time students, such as classes offered in the daytime and evening. Online courses make pursuing secondary education more accessible with classes you can take from home or at the office.
- Two-year degrees, certificates and continuing to a four-year institution
Some community colleges offer bachelor’s degrees independently or with a four-year institution. This helps to bring higher education opportunities to more students, especially nontraditional students who may not be able to travel to a four-year institution to pursue an advanced degree. At Arapahoe Community College, we offer nearly 100 degree and certificate programs to help you succeed.
- Small classes
Class sizes tend to be small, which means one-on-one interaction with the teacher, the opportunity to have questions answered in class, and more meaningful relationships with classmates. Smaller classes enable teachers to adapt lessons to the needs of the class, which can promote more productive lessons.
- Dedicated teachers
Community college instructors have traditionally dedicated minimal time to research and scholarship and have instead focused on teaching. This gives the benefit of having instructors who are entirely focused on what is taught in the classroom without having to spend their time producing articles for scholarly journals.
- Adaptive course offerings
Community colleges adapt their curriculum to the needs of their communities. For example, many community colleges began offering high-tech coursework as early as 2000 to meet the demand for this type of education. Enrolling in classes to improve your workplace skills in technology and computers will increase your employability.
- Variety of programs
A key to success at college is studying a course that interests you so you remain engaged and passionate about your studies. The degree and certificate programs at ACC cover a wide range of academic, business and technical fields of study at affordable tuition rates so you can pursue your passions without going broke.
- Activities outside the classroom
A key element of the four-year college experience is activities beyond in-class education. Student Life at Arapahoe Community College coordinates activities and events such as movie showings, guest speakers and music performances. Participating in clubs and organizations can expand your network while enriching your college experience. At ACC, we also offer community resources such as community education, fitness center, daycare, and a library to benefit the community, even those not enrolled in the college.
The community college experience is not to be overlooked. In addition to the tremendous tuition savings, community college is an excellent choice to pursue a degree, certificate or to improve your skills in an area of your choice. With more people learning about all that community colleges have to offer, they may not be one of America’s best-kept secrets for long.
Community College Education. By: Clapp, Marlene, Research Starters: Education (Online Edition), 2015
The % in this post are from the NY Times piece: “At public 2-year colleges, the average tuition was $2527. This compares to four year for profit schools where the average tuition is 15661. Average tuition at a four-year non-profit was 21,324.”