2-Year Community Colleges
It’s no secret that starting your academic career at
a 2-year college has many benefits. If
you’re on a limited budget, these schools provide a relatively inexpensive way
to begin your education. Also, even moderately sized towns usually have a nearby community
college campus – which means that almost everyone has one within driving
distance. And if you’re not quite ready
to attend a university, 2-year colleges are often a great way to transition.
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Perhaps most importantly, a new study by the National
Student Clearinghouse® Research Center™ shows that many students who start out
in 2-year schools go on to complete degrees at 4-year colleges.
Let’s take a closer look at all of these factors.
Colleges Can Be Key to Degree Completion
The study conducted by the National Student
Clearinghouse® Research Center™ examined students who completed a degree at a 4-year
college during the 2010-11 academic year.
They found that nationally, 45% of the graduates had started their
education at a community college. In 13
states, more than 50% had done so.* Clearly,
beginning your academic career at a 2-year school can lead to successfully
earning a degree.
Schools Are Less Expensive Than 4-Year Colleges
The National Center for Education Statistics reports
that during the 2010-11 academic year, tuition, room and board at public 4-year
colleges cost undergraduates an average of $15,918. At private 4-year institutions, it was a
whopping $32,617. Comparatively, the
2010-11 cost of tuition, room and board at public 2-year schools was just
Community colleges cost about half of what public
4-year schools do, and less than a quarter of what you’d pay at a private
Colleges Are Convenient
According to the American Association of Community
Colleges, there are 1,132 community colleges in the U.S. When satellite campuses are included, the
number increases to about 1,600. These
institutions teach about 13 million students annually.
Because 2-year schools are so widespread, the vast
majority of Americans have one within driving distance. This means that you won’t have to move
anywhere to begin your education; younger students can live at home for another
year or two, and adult students can remain near work and family. Not only is this convenient, it also saves
you money on room and board – usually the second-largest college expense.
Colleges Make Transitioning Easier
You may not be ready to attend a university just
yet. Perhaps you just finished high
school, and want to remain near family and friends for a little while
longer. Or maybe you need to take some
remedial classes before diving into rigorous college-level coursework. Grades can be another reason; if your high
school transcript isn’t as impressive as it should be, proving yourself at a
community college for a year or two can help with admission to a university.
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Community college offers you the opportunity to
achieve any or all of these things while still working on your education. You can stay near family and friends. You can complete any preparatory classes you
need to. If you study hard, you can add
several semesters of high grades to your transcript. And you’ll be accumulating college credit the
entire time, lessening the number of classes you ultimately have to take at a
more-expensive 4-year college.
Student Clearinghouse® Research Center™ Snapshot Report on Student Mobility,
accessed October 2012.
†National Center for Education Statistics Fast
Facts table, accessed October 2012.