Let’s Talk About Community College

Let’s Talk About Community College

But first, let’s play a game. True or false? 

  1. The majority of students attend community college to get into a trade career.
  2. You can’t get a bachelor’s degree at a community college.
  3. Community college credits don’t transfer.
  4. Community colleges don’t have sports

False. False. False. False. 

Let’s do a clean slate here and take all of our assumptions about community colleges off the table.

  • 80% of college students entering community college have indicated that they desire to obtain a bachelor’s degree or higher.
  • Today nearly half of all states allow their community colleges to offer bachelor’s degrees, according to the Education Commission of the States, a nonprofit education policy advisory organization.
  • Anytime anyone asks a question about college transfer credits, you literally have to remember the transfer credit rule: transferability of credit is always up to the receiving institution. However, the rumor that credits that were earned specifically at a community college not being transferable is just that – a rumor.
  • The National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) regulates intercollegiate athletics of community colleges. It is the community college counterpart of the National College Athletic Association (NCAA), which oversees athletics at four-year institutions. Some (not all) community college students have an opportunity to participate in numerous intercollegiate sports.

The obvious reasons we’re talking about community colleges: 

The cost of a community college or a 2-year program is typically less expensive than tuition at a university. When comparing the cost, it’s important to look at the per-year cost, versus the total cost of the degree. Because community colleges are usually “commuter schools”, room and board costs may not be a potential factor in the cost.

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The class sizes are typically smaller, meaning you will likely have more 1:1 time with your professors and advisors. This is helpful if you prefer a more hands-on learning approach with your professors and plan to take advantage of office hours.

Your admissions process may be easier. While some four-year schools still require an ACT or SAT score, most community colleges don’t require standardized testing for admission. Application fees are waived at times or may be significantly less expensive than a 4-year program. Community colleges are now offering direct pathways to specific 4-year programs that significantly increase the likelihood of acceptance.

Ending the Stigma of Going to Community College

Community college stigma is a major issue, and a lot of students become discouraged if it’s their outcome. A generalization of community college is that it’s the last resort for those who are unmotivated or unprepared. This is far from the truth! Times have changed, and society is more willing to accept options outside of the traditional college path. What constitutes a “better school” is something we should reconsider.

Changes are made consistently on community college campuses from a marketing and curriculum perspective. Some colleges have opted to drop the word “community” from their name. For example, Brevard Community College in Florida changed its name to Eastern Florida State College in 2013. This is because they have changed their curriculum to reflect new 4-year bachelor’s degrees offered to expand their potential pool of students. In fact, community colleges nationwide offer baccalaureate degrees in more than 25 states.

Have you ever seen the hashtag #EndCCStigma? That’s all thanks to a guy named Steve Robinson, who is the president of Lansing Community College. “The catchphrase of our anti-stigma campaign is ‘We’re not going to change our name. We’re going to change your mind,'” Robinson told Inside Higher Ed. “It’s a teaching problem to just let everybody know what a fantastic and transformational idea the community college is. From my perspective, ‘community’ is the coolest part of our name.

The MyColleges tool in the Encourage App can help you learn more about community colleges and all of the college options available. Visit encourageme.com to learn more and download the app!