Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. You won’t BELIEVE these five hidden community college benefits!

 

Everyone knows community colleges are cheaper than just about any other option. But I’ve found that going to community college gave me some advantages now that I’m finishing my degree at a university.

1. Small Class Sizes/Lecture Hall Avoidance
Yup, this is something of a cliche, since just about every college pamphlet I’ve seen advertises a low student-to-faculty ratio, or something like that. But often, introductory classes at larger universities meet in lecture halls, with as many as a few hundred students in the room. Regardless of how many students there are per faculty member, larger schools often need to be efficient this way, especially in 100 and 200 level courses where the material is less in-depth. Meanwhile, I don’t think I ever had a class at my community college with more than 50 students, and usually that was closer to 30. The teachers almost always knew my name, and if I had a question, I could walk up to them after class and ask, rather than having to make an appointment, send an email, or visit office hours.
By the time you get to the university, you will have finished most classes that would normally take place in lecture halls at community college, and move on to the upper-level courses that usually have small class sizes. Going to community college allowed me to almost completely bypass lecture halls.

2. More Opportunities to Job-Shadow
I’m going into a somewhat medical profession, and all the professionals in that field in my college town are inundated with requests to job-shadow. Meanwhile, I was more or less the only undergraduate student emailing the professionals in my hometown. If you go to a college with a specialty program, the professionals in that town will probably be overwhelmed by college students. If you go to a community college, the local professionals in your field of choice will probably love to have you. This makes community colleges a solid choice if you are looking to choose a major or explore careers.

3. Great freedom in independent study opportunities
When I finished most of my degree requirements, my adviser suggested I pursue an internship or independent study. I spoke to the internship coordinator, who pointed out a few professors I had classes with in the past who would help me. The professor I asked was quite happy to help me, the study was quite easy to set up, and I had great freedom in what I would study and a lot of options for my final project.
Of course, there are opportunities for independent study at my university as well, but they are much more structured. Every senior in my major writes a final capstone paper, and there is an opportunity to do additional research as an independent study. This is nothing like being able to ask a professor “Hey, can you work with me on an independent study on subject X?”

4. Bypassing the freshman-year hurdles
At my school, like many schools, freshman are required to live in the dorms and buy a meal plan. Some people may like this idea, and I know many people choose to continue doing this post freshman-year. But the dorm lifestyle is one that is hard on introverts such as myself, and even though the meal plan food is good, there is great freedom in being able to buy, cook, and eat things that you choose to. As a transfer, I didn’t have to deal with freshman red tape, and was able to live off-campus and eat what I wanted to.

5. Knowing your interests, strengths, and weaknesses before spending a lot to go to school
When I started community college, I had a few vague ideas about what kind of classes I liked and disliked. Going to community college made my interests so much clearer to me, especially thanks to my independent study, in which I job-shadowed a professional in the field I wanted to go into. I probably would have started out a teaching major and then changed majors, had I gone into a bigger university right away, and major changes cost time and money.
I also learned how many credits I could handle, and how many hours per week I could work while at school, which is valuable information for further college planning.

Whether you choose a community college or a larger university, keep these factors in mind. I know that some students take summer courses from community colleges while home on break from their universities to get cheaper credits in a smaller class. That way, it’s possible to attend community college while also attending a larger university. Everybody has to get their gen ed credits done, and community colleges are, in most cases, the best way to do that.

This was originally a post on my blog, https://amateuradvising.blogspot.com/. Send the link to the future college students in your life, since what I’m writing is most helpful for somebody making their first few choices about school, such as high schoolers unsure what college preparations should look like. (At least, I hope it’s helpful.)

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  1. GFHandle Member

    As a retired community college English prof I say “AMEN” to this and can add: a student population with real diversity, not the fake “diversity” of the current fetishists. I met people whose life stories amazed and inspired me. And there was almost none of the intellectual arrogance you get at the “elite” schools I attended. Community college students tend to have their feet on the ground–even if there are plenty of slackers there, too. Although many of my colleagues were more like high school teachers than university teachers (student centered social workers vs. those motivated by the subject) it was certainly possible to get the equivalent of first year university training if you chose wisely. And when you get the four year degree, no one cares where you spent the first two. Many of our graduates went on to prestige colleges.

    Once, I was working in the tutoring center discussing standards with a colleague (whom I like and admire). I said, “After all it is a community college.” She replied, “Well, it’s a community college.” That sums up the dynamic tension. A healthy one, I think.

    I’ve always said it’s the best deal going. Only if you can get into a Yale or Harvard should you even consider settling for anything less. You’ll miss out on dorm life and and other benefits of on-campus life but you will also avoid some pitfalls. As a value proposition, community college can’t be beat.

    Congratulations on your wise choice and perseverance.

     

    • #1
    • March 25, 2020, at 5:55 PM PDT
    • 13 likes
  2. The Reticulator Member

    Good post, but you didn’t explain why I wouldn’t believe the points you made. 

    • #2
    • March 25, 2020, at 5:58 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  3. Dill Coolidge
    Dill

    GFHandle (View Comment):

    As a retired community college English prof I say “AMEN” to this and can add: a student population with real diversity, not the fake “diversity” of the current fetishists. I met people whose life stories amazed and inspired me. And there was almost none of the intellectual arrogance you get at the “elite” schools I attended. Community college students tend to have their feet on the ground–even if there are plenty of slackers there, too. Although many of my colleagues were more like high school teachers than university teachers (student centered social workers vs. those motivated by the subject) it was certainly possible to get the equivalent of first year university training if you chose wisely. And when you get the four year degree, no one cares where you spent the first two. Many of our graduates went on to prestige colleges.

    Once, I was working in the tutoring center discussing standards with a colleague (whom I like and admire). I said, “After all it is a community college.” She replied, “Well, it’s a community college.” That sums up the dynamic tension. A healthy one, I think.

    I’ve always said it’s the best deal going. Only if you can get into a Yale or Harvard should you even consider settling for anything less. You’ll miss out on dorm life and and other benefits of on-campus life but you will also avoid some pitfalls. As a value proposition, community college can’t be beat.

    Congratulations on your wise choice and perseverance.

     

    Oh, yeah. During group work, you will likely be paired with adults who have been in the workforce and are going back to school or getting continuing education. Good perspectives.

    In regards to the teachers, I had some high school 2.0 professors, and some professors with doctorates. But does teaching Public Speaking, Shakespeare, or Bio 101 really require going to school for eight years? If they can lay a solid foundation, that’s what counts. I think approachable professors with just a Master’s degree can help out with the transition. (Not that any of my doctorate professors have been unapproachable, but it does change things. I can stop by Mr. Smith’s office, but do I really want to bother William Smith, PhD, when he is working on a fascinating but time consuming research project?)

    I don’t think getting immersed in the “college lifestyle” as a freshman is something community college miss out on, but rather, escape…I don’t like the way my school seems to foster dependence on the institution. I think college students should be able to be adults, and I think community college prepares them better for this.

    Thank you! I’m happy things went the way they did. Not all of it was conscious choosing on my part.

    • #3
    • March 25, 2020, at 7:44 PM PDT
    • 8 likes
  4. Dill Coolidge
    Dill

    The Reticulator (View Comment):

    Good post, but you didn’t explain why I wouldn’t believe the points you made.

    Tongue-in-cheek clickbait, like any clickbait, always fails to deliver what it promises.

    • #4
    • March 25, 2020, at 7:46 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  5. The Reticulator Member

    Dill (View Comment):

    The Reticulator (View Comment):

    Good post, but you didn’t explain why I wouldn’t believe the points you made.

    Tongue-in-cheek clickbait, like any clickbait, always fails to deliver what it promises.

    And it works, too, because I fell for it!

    • #5
    • March 25, 2020, at 7:48 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  6. Mark Camp Member

    The Reticulator (View Comment):

    Good post, but you didn’t explain why I wouldn’t believe the points you made.

    You’d never believe him.

    • #6
    • March 25, 2020, at 7:52 PM PDT
    • 7 likes
  7. Aaron Miller Member
    Aaron Miller Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    I attended a community college, a big public university, and a small private university. The quality of instruction is a mixed bag everywhere. They all had great professors, terrible professors, and middling ones. 

    As stupidly expensive as 4-year colleges are, going there from the start is a waste of money. The big colleges offer mainly prestige that they didn’t especially earn.

    • #7
    • March 25, 2020, at 9:12 PM PDT
    • 8 likes
  8. Dill Coolidge
    Dill

    Aaron Miller (View Comment):

    I attended a community college, a big public university, and a small private university. The quality of instruction is a mixed bag everywhere. They all had great professors, terrible professors, and middling ones.

    As stupidly expensive as 4-year colleges are, going there from the start is a waste of money. The big colleges offer mainly prestige that they didn’t especially earn.

    I hear none of it matters once you get to the professional level anyway. A brand-name degree just indicates level of debt.

    • #8
    • March 25, 2020, at 9:24 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  9. Stad Thatcher

    You might want to check for other hidden benefits. In South Carolina, tuition is free in state institutions for seniors 60 and over and retired. Other states may have similar programs.

    • #9
    • March 26, 2020, at 6:03 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  10. Old Buckeye Member

    Community college can cut costs in other ways too. Our son was able to attend community college during high school, bypassing several intro courses at the state university where he enrolled and condensing his time at university to 3 years. I taught at community colleges in two different states and all of them offered courses with instructors who were on a par with the instructors I encountered teaching for a large university.

     

    • #10
    • March 26, 2020, at 6:49 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  11. Mark Camp Member

    Stad (View Comment):

    You might want to check for other hidden benefits. In South Carolina, tuition is free in state institutions for seniors 60 and over and retired. Other states may have similar programs.

    Hm. 

    How long does it take to establish residency? Do colleges close to the beach qualify?

    Is room and board included? Could my wife and I have our own room?

    • #11
    • March 26, 2020, at 8:15 AM PDT
    • Like
  12. Stad Thatcher

    Mark Camp (View Comment):

    Stad (View Comment):

    You might want to check for other hidden benefits. In South Carolina, tuition is free in state institutions for seniors 60 and over and retired. Other states may have similar programs.

    Hm.

    How long does it take to establish residency? Do colleges close to the beach qualify?

    Is room and board included? Could my wife and I have our own room?

    Don’t know about residency. If a college is a state school, it can be at the beach, in the mountains, etc. There is a catch. If a class is full, you can’t get in – paying students have priority.

    Only tuition is free. Fees, parking stickers, room and board are still the responsibility of the senior.

    As for you and your wive having your own room, it depends on your relationship. Hehe . . .

    • #12
    • March 26, 2020, at 8:44 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  13. Dill Coolidge
    Dill

    Stad (View Comment):

    You might want to check for other hidden benefits. In South Carolina, tuition is free in state institutions for seniors 60 and over and retired. Other states may have similar programs.

    That’s an awesome program!

    Honestly, if you get some good scholarships and work a few hours a week at a job that’s relevant to your schooling, you are basically getting those two years of community college for free. 

    • #13
    • March 26, 2020, at 9:36 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  14. Dill Coolidge
    Dill

    Old Buckeye (View Comment):

    Community college can cut costs in other ways too. Our son was able to attend community college during high school, bypassing several intro courses at the state university where he enrolled and condensing his time at university to 3 years. I taught at community colleges in two different states and all of them offered courses with instructors who were on a par with the instructors I encountered teaching for a large university.

     

    I had friends who did this, both of whom got a year ahead. One of them got accepted into her program a semester early. 

    Yeah, I found the nice rural setting attracted a lot of really good professors to my community college. 

    • #14
    • March 26, 2020, at 9:44 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  15. CACrabtree Coolidge

    An excellent post. As I was reading those benefits, I couldn’t help but think about Lori Loughlin’s brainless twit of a daughter. When she was giggling through her social media post and saying she wanted to go to college so that she could “party”, her mother should have given her a gentle boot to the derriere and enrolled her in a community college. She might have saved herself from a prison term and all of us would still be subjected to her wooden style of acting on the Hallmark Channel.

    • #15
    • March 26, 2020, at 11:14 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  16. Bill Nelson Member

    Had a workmate who had a BS from MIT, and a masters in Engineering from Univ. of California. He hated engineering. So he decided to go into medicine. To prepare, he did all of his prep work at Mesa Community College. He said it was the best instruction he had ever had. He is now a physician.

     

    • #16
    • March 26, 2020, at 11:31 AM PDT
    • 5 likes
  17. Dill Coolidge
    Dill

    CACrabtree (View Comment):

    An excellent post. As I was reading those benefits, I couldn’t help but think about Lori Loughlin’s brainless twit of a daughter. When she was giggling through her social media post and saying she wanted to go to college so that she could “party”, her mother should have given her a gentle boot to the derriere and enrolled her in a community college. She might have saved herself from a prison term and all of us would still be subjected to her wooden style of acting on the Hallmark Channel.

    Honestly, I think that there is a third option, besides community colleges and four-year schools. If somebody just needs a break from academics, why not get an entry-level job in a field they are interested in? Sounds like this gal probably would have benefited from that the most. 

    • #17
    • March 26, 2020, at 11:40 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  18. Dill Coolidge
    Dill

    Bill Nelson (View Comment):

    Had a workmate who had a BS from MIT, and a masters in Engineering from Univ. of California. He hated engineering. So he decided to go into medicine. To prepare, he did all of his prep work at Mesa Community College. He said it was the best instruction he had ever had. He is now a physician.

    Wow. 

    Thanks to a grant from a local family, my community college has a TON of health-profession courses and resources. A dedicated building as well as programs in stuff like surgery tech, radiology tech, ect. I am really surprised how many resources such a small school had for so many specific programs that need such specific technology and learning tools.

    • #18
    • March 26, 2020, at 11:52 AM PDT
    • Like
  19. Bill Nelson Member

    CACrabtree (View Comment):

    An excellent post. As I was reading those benefits, I couldn’t help but think about Lori Loughlin’s brainless twit of a daughter. When she was giggling through her social media post and saying she wanted to go to college so that she could “party”, her mother should have given her a gentle boot to the derriere and enrolled her in a community college. She might have saved herself from a prison term and all of us would still be subjected to her wooden style of acting on the Hallmark Channel.

    I liked the Garage Sale Mysteries.

    • #19
    • March 26, 2020, at 12:15 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  20. Misthiocracy got drunk and Member
    Misthiocracy got drunk and Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Dill: But often, introductory classes at larger universities meet in lecture halls, with as many as a few hundred students in the room.

    The Intro to Psychology class at Carleton University is infamous for taking up to three lecture halls, with the instructor in one hall and the other two halls watching on CCTV.

    • #20
    • March 26, 2020, at 12:29 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  21. Brian Clendinen Member
    Brian Clendinen Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Its cheaper and usually closer to were you live also, if you don’t live in a major city. I went to one of the better community colleges in the U.S. and the one difference I found was quality was much more even for teachers. You really did not get bad teachers. All my worse professors (had quite a few of them) were at university. However the top three were also at university.

     

    • #21
    • March 26, 2020, at 12:52 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  22. Linguaphile Member

    A great post (said the adoring grandmother!). Everything you say is true regarding the advantages of a community college. As a college professor in a private college (ret.) I found that one drawback was the lack of advising. Eighteen-year-olds are not the most self disciplined when choosing their courses, so would often show up ready to begin the junior year with a grab bag of courses that would not fit into any program. Of course, they would be upset and angry when all the credits would not be accepted, not understanding that courses must fit into a degree program. I know there is advising available in the community colleges, but students are often unaware that the service exists or they feel they don’t need it. Our college, like all the colleges and universities in the area, had an articulation agreement with each community college. But again, student often did not know that this was available.

    • #22
    • March 26, 2020, at 1:03 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  23. RufusRJones Member

    My recent thought is it would be great to live in an area where you could choose between a couple of commuter colleges. It seems like your quality control and your value proposition would go way up.

    I just realized I haven’t completed my opinion about this. The other thing is you would be able to avoid all of that intersectionality and diversity crap. They would have less police power over you as well. It seems really risky to go for the old comprehensive college experience these days. Plus they charge you too much for it.

    I can’t wait till they wipe all of this crap out and start over.

    It should be about human capital development and if you need to pass a certification, test fine. What we have now is a scam.

    • #23
    • March 26, 2020, at 1:26 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
    • This comment has been edited.
  24. Dennis A. Garcia (formerly Gai… Member

    Not knocking community college, but I think a number of these problems are just as well met by shooting for an honors college at a larger university, without having to sacrifice on available faculty.

    • #24
    • March 26, 2020, at 1:27 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  25. RufusRJones Member

    CACrabtree (View Comment):
    Lori Loughlin

    I am very fired up about this. The fact is colleges are crooked and the government is worse. Theft and graft.

    Short story … the defense says the government has lied, fabricated incriminating evidence and intentionally withheld evidence it was supposed to turn over that tended to show these were not bribes.

    As far as how her kid behaves, I blame the parents. If her kid isn’t that smart, and doesn’t care about academics just send her to a party school. Why send her to someplace that is difficult academically, or is some big deal ruling class place where you’re supposed to make contacts? She was already making a good living as an influencer. What idiots.

    The whole exercise is stupid if it isn’t primarily about developing human capital.

    • #25
    • March 26, 2020, at 1:34 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
    • This comment has been edited.
  26. Dill Coolidge
    Dill

    Misthiocracy held his nose and (View Comment):

    Dill: But often, introductory classes at larger universities meet in lecture halls, with as many as a few hundred students in the room.

    The Intro to Psychology class at Carleton University is infamous for taking up to three lecture halls, with the instructor in one hall and the other two halls watching on CCTV.

    Wow. Why not just increase the number of sections? Or make it an online course? 

    • #26
    • March 26, 2020, at 1:52 PM PDT
    • Like
  27. Dill Coolidge
    Dill

    Linguaphile (View Comment):

    A great post (said the adoring grandmother!). Everything you say is true regarding the advantages of a community college. As a college professor in a private college (ret.) I found that one drawback was the lack of advising. Eighteen-year-olds are not the most self disciplined when choosing their courses, so would often show up ready to begin the junior year with a grab bag of courses that would not fit into any program. Of course, they would be upset and angry when all the credits would not be accepted, not understanding that courses must fit into a degree program. I know there is advising available in the community colleges, but students are often unaware that the service exists or they feel they don’t need it. Our college, like all the colleges and universities in the area, had an articulation agreement with each community college. But again, student often did not know that this was available.

    It might be a state university system regulation or just something both my schools have done, but I’ve never been able to register without an advising session. When my community college adviser learned what I was interested in, she pulled up the program advising sheets for that major at the state university, picked out the classes available at the community college (Two psych classes, two semesters of language, a pre-statistics math and then statistics, chemistry, and biology) and had me do those classes. The rest of my courses were up to me to choose, so long as I completed an AA or AS degree. All the colleges in my state waive most gen ed requirements if the student already has an associate’s degree. 

    • #27
    • March 26, 2020, at 2:01 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  28. GFHandle Member

    Linguaphile (View Comment):

    A great post (said the adoring grandmother!). Everything you say is true regarding the advantages of a community college. As a college professor in a private college (ret.) I found that one drawback was the lack of advising. Eighteen-year-olds are not the most self disciplined when choosing their courses, so would often show up ready to begin the junior year with a grab bag of courses that would not fit into any program. Of course, they would be upset and angry when all the credits would not be accepted, not understanding that courses must fit into a degree program. I know there is advising available in the community colleges, but students are often unaware that the service exists or they feel they don’t need it. Our college, like all the colleges and universities in the area, had an articulation agreement with each community college. But again, student often did not know that this was available.

    Where I taught, a day was devoted for scheduling. You could not enroll in a course if you hadn’t shown up for the half hour with a teacher to go over your situation and pick courses. We also had office hours but few took advantage. I used to tell my classes “The FBI says if you are ever kidnapped, talk, talk, talk to them. It is harder to kill someone you know a bit than a total stranger. If it works on a gangster, it will work on your professors. Visit them.”

    • #28
    • March 26, 2020, at 2:05 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  29. Stad Thatcher

    Another piece of info. Our oldest daughter didn’t know what college she wanted to go to or what degree to get. We suggested (And she listened!) she live at home and get a two-year Associate of Science degree at Aiken Tech, or local tech school. South Carolina has a system where schools have general courses that are easily transferred from one school to the next. She got her AS degree, then picked a major and decided to go to Clemson for a couple of years. Many of her first and second year courses were already done. Still, she ended up back at USC-Aiken (our home town four-year school) to finish up.

    • #29
    • March 26, 2020, at 2:21 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  30. Dill Coolidge
    Dill

    Dennis A. Garcia (formerly Gai… (View Comment):

    Not knocking community college, but I think a number of these problems are just as well met by shooting for an honors college at a larger university, without having to sacrifice on available faculty.

    I applied to the honors college at my state university, got in, but elected to go to community college. Got into the miniature honors college there, took one class, and decided it wasn’t for me. It was a good class, but I felt there were more productive ways to spend my time and it was something of a strain trying to get those classes into my schedule. The courses combined different subjects “Farming and Fiction” “Psychology and Theater” and “Environment and Literature” sort of things, and none of them were really that interesting to me or relevant to my future. 

    Looking at the honors college requirements for my current university, I’m glad it’s not a route I pursued. Why would I want to take “Ways of Knowing” on top of everything else and produce both my major’s capstone and an honors capstone? I love reading and have nothing against literature and philosophy and the like, but it seems that honors courses really tend to lean that way, and I like my current courses–mostly a blend of hard and soft sciences–a lot more.

    • #30
    • March 26, 2020, at 2:27 PM PDT
    • 1 like