A Student’s Guide to Choosing the Right Community College 

As a high school student, you might be wondering what your next step will be after graduation. While a four-year university may be the first thing that comes to mind, community college is an option that shouldn’t be overlooked.

What is community college?  

Community college, also known as junior college, is a two-year institution of higher education that offers associate degrees, vocational certificates, and transfer programs. 

Why is community college a good option?     

  1. Affordability: Community college tuition is typically more affordable than tuition for a four-year university, making it a great option for students who want to save money. 
  1. Flexibility: Community colleges offer flexible schedules, including evening and weekend classes, making it easier for students to balance school and work.  
  1. Smaller class sizes: Community colleges typically have smaller class sizes than four-year universities, which can allow for more one-on-one interactions with professors.  
  1. Transfer opportunities: Community colleges offer transfer programs that allow students to move to four-year universities after completing their associate degree. 

What are the costs associated with community college? 

Costs to attend community college may include tuition, textbooks, fees, and transportation. However, you can apply for financial aid and scholarships to help reduce costs. Many community colleges also offer work-study programs and part-time jobs on campus that can help students earn money and gain valuable work experience while attending school.  

Explore your community college options.  

If you’re considering community college, here are some steps you can take:  

  1. Research: Look at the websites, course catalogs, and admission requirements for community colleges in your area.  
  1. Attend a college fair: Visit community college booths and speak with representatives to learn more about their programs.  
  1. Schedule a tour: Get a feel for the environment and ask questions while exploring the campus.  
  1. Talk to your counselor: Discuss your community college options and learn how they can fit into your academic plan and help you achieve your career goals.  

What degrees can I earn and transfer?  

Community colleges offer a variety of degrees and programs that can lead to different career paths: 

  1. Associate degree: This two-year degree can be earned in a variety of fields, such as business, nursing, and engineering.  
  1. Vocational certificate: Train for a specific career, such as welding, cosmetology, or dental hygiene, in this one- or two-year certificate program. 
  1. Transfer programs: Plan for a smooth transfer to a four-year university through a transfer program. These programs typically include general education courses that fulfill transfer requirements at many universities.  

If you’re unsure whether a four-year university is the right path for you after high school, know that you have other options. Talk to your school counselor or a community college representative to learn more about the benefits of continuing your education at a community college.

For more resources and information on preparing for college, visit the K12 College Prep Center.

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