Thinking about changing careers? Need to go back to school in order to do so? Here’s why you should consider attending a community college for your new degree:
1. They’re the least expensive option.
If you already have tens of thousands of dollars in student debt, the last thing you want is to add more. On average, community colleges cost half as much as state schools ($2,076 per year vs. $5,100 per year) and about 1/10 as much as private schools. If you’re comparing schools on cost alone, community colleges are clearly the winner.
2. No room and board.
Full-time students at four-year schools are typically required to live on-campus and purchase a meal plan for at least their freshman year (if not longer). While many community colleges do have dorms, most students live close enough to commute. This means you’ll save money and not have to deal with the stigma of being the only commuter student in all of your classes.
3. Ability to try different classes and programs.
Knowing that community colleges are relatively inexpensive, you’ll feel less guilty about taking a number of different classes to explore your options before committing to a specific degree program. Even if you’re not planning on changing careers, it wouldn’t hurt to take a class or two at your local community college to expand your skill set. You might even be able to convince your employer to cover the cost.
While state and private schools tend to recruit mostly full-time students straight out of high school, community colleges have students of all ages and experiences. In order to accommodate non-traditional students who might work full-time and/or have children, community colleges tend to have a lot of flexibility in terms of taking classes in the evenings, during the summer, or even online. They’re also less likely to assign ridiculous amounts of homework outside of class.
5. Career-minded professors.
I hate to add to the stereotype of college professors living in a bubble or teaching purely to support them while they perform research or write a book… but the fact is that there are lot of those types at both state and private schools. On the other hand, many professors at community colleges are adjuncts who have worked (or currently work) in a career outside of higher education. This puts them very much in tune with the “real world” as opposed to just teaching from a textbook.
6. Career-minded programs.
While community college do offer a number of “fluff” liberal arts degrees and programs, they also offer career-centered programs in high-demand fields such as accounting, nursing, hospitality, culinary arts, information technology, paralegal studies, criminal justice, and more. You could also take business and finance classes to help you start your own company.
That being said, community colleges are not right for everyone. Depending on the type of new career you’re exploring, a two-year program may not be enough (or may not even exist). You’ll also encounter a wide variety of students in your classes – some who work very hard and some who don’t care at all – since admissions standards are considerably lower than at a four-year school.
However, if you’re looking to start a new career without having to quit your day job or go deeper into debt, a community college could be the answer.