There are so many excellent reasons to attend community college. As the price of tuition is increasing significantly, at almost eight times the rate of inflation, students are starting to look for alternatives to traditional four-year universities. Because it’s more affordable, community college is a great solution for first-generation students and those from lower-income households, especially those from minority groups.
The average tuition price for a four-year institution in the 2021-22 academic year was $38,070, according to the Trends in College Pricing and Student Aid 2021 report. Yet that same report confirmed the average community college cost was $3,800. Middle-income students looking for a learning experience closer to home also prefer community college because it means less debt.
Find Your Bootcamp Match
- Career Karma matches you with top tech bootcamps
- Access exclusive scholarships and prep courses
But since the spring 2019 semester, the popularity of community colleges has declined by 3.4 percent. There are many causes for this, especially as many families believe in the idea that going to college means going to a big institution with a strong track record and name recognition. However, you can learn the skills you need to achieve your career goals and get career coaching from a community college while paying much less money.
Community colleges have an easier admissions process than universities and will help you gain a strong foundation to start your career path. Here are the best reasons to attend community college and the top jobs for graduates.
What Is The Average Community College Cost in 2022?
The average community college cost, both in and out of state, is $10,300 according to EducationDataorg. For in-state community colleges, expect tuition of around $3,400. If you’re studying out of state, your tuition increases to $8,210.
How much you pay for community college is also influenced by where the college is. For example, if you’re looking for the best community colleges in Chicago, the tuition is about $4,010 in state and $11,320 for out-of-state learning. However, if you study in Florida, the in-state tuition is $2,580 on average and $9,380 for out-of-state students.
If you’re inspired by our reasons to attend community college but the tuition worries you, we have great news. Many community colleges offer financial aid solutions so students can fulfill their career aspirations.
Is Coding Bootcamp or Community College Better?
There are many reasons to attend community college or a coding bootcamp. These factors include how much time prospective students want to invest in their studies, how much they can afford, and if they’ll pass the coding bootcamp admissions process. The application process for community college is much easier than a coding bootcamp, so you need to consider this.
You also need to think about what you want to learn. Coding bootcamps, whether it be Fullstack Academy or Flatiron School, are best for students wanting a career in tech. Coding bootcamp programs focus on tech subjects like software engineering, programming skills, data analytics, and data science, to name a few. So if you don’t want to work in the tech industry, community college is a better choice.
Students must also understand how intensive an immersive program at a coding bootcamp is. Remember, at community college, you have two years to complete your studies. However, coding bootcamps take about six months to get you ready for the working world. Many of the best coding bootcamps also prefer students with professional experience.
5 Reasons to Attend Community College
This may shock you but many professionals across healthcare, finance, business, and tech sectors have attended community college. These colleges also have career advisors and many offer a flexible learning schedule. The acceptance rate for community college is high too, as anybody can apply.
1. Community Colleges Help Students Experience Academe
Community colleges provide an alternative to millions of Americans who aren’t ready to attend a four-year institution. This can mean living away from home or studying a difficult degree you’re not confident in. Community college will give you a taste of further education while helping you realize your potential without requiring you to commit to a four-year degree or move away from home.
You can enjoy learning in an environment with career coaches, like-minded students, and soft skills training. Whether you choose to study at the best community colleges in Chicago, San Diego, or New York, renowned community colleges will give you the basic foundations to progress in your dream career. Some of these colleges also offer extracurricular activities, giving creative, social, or athletic people more reasons to attend community college.
2. Community College Cost is Affordable
Community colleges are cheaper than four-year institutions by a long shot. The significant difference in tuition costs makes many students reluctant to pursue university until they genuinely know what they want to study. The pressure for community college students is much less, as rather than paying tens of thousands of dollars, they can pay a third of the price and get familiar with further education.
As we’ve mentioned earlier, in 2022, community college costs about $10,300. By contrast, university costs around $35,331 per annum. The high cost of completing a four-year degree drives more and more students into student debt, but you don’t have to stress about this for community college.
The average student loan balance for students in the Class of 2018 was $29,800, according to a study by Student Loan Hero. Community college students typically take out only a fraction of that amount of debt. Because they are closer to home, they also depend less on federal aid or private loans to pay for living costs.
In addition, many low-income students are eligible for Pell Grants, a type of financial aid given to low-income students that you don’t need to be paid back. Pell Grants can considerably defray the price of community college. So you can depend less on other forms of aid such as federal student loans.
3. Students Can Transfer to Four-Year Institutions
It’s important to note that enrolling in a community college doesn’t mean that community college is your final destination. Many students who start at community college progress to university. Attending a community college gives you credits toward a four-year degree, so you might not have to study for the complete four years if you join a university.
After community college, you’ll also have more confidence in your abilities in pursuing your dream career. This is mainly because you would have gained more professional experience after spending several hours per day learning.
Many two-year community colleges have agreements with other schools that allow their students to transfer their credits toward earning a full bachelor’s degree. This agreement is often considered a “partner program.” According to the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, almost 40 percent of community college students who started in a two-year institution had transferred at least once in a six-year time frame.
Four-year institutions are starting to become more accepting of transfer admissions, too. For example, Princeton University reinstated transfer admissions in 2017, after placing a moratorium on credit transfers in 1990. This was part of a move to encourage applications from students from low-income backgrounds, who often continue their education at community college after high school.
4. Community Colleges Are More Flexible
Community college also provides more flexibility for students. This manifests itself in a couple of different ways. Imagine if you had just taken out tens of thousands of dollars to attend a four-year university only to find out that the major you have declared is not what you expected. Indeed, you can change your major, but many of the classes you have already taken will not count toward your new one.
Many students accumulate more course credits than necessary because they have switched majors, and some of those are not counted toward their new major. Community colleges allow students to test out being a college student at a lower cost than going to a four-year university and give students more flexibility over their studies.
Students can explore different classes and think about whether their chosen major is indeed what they want to study. You may also realize that college just isn’t for you and that alternatives such as coding bootcamps, short online programs, technical colleges, or going straight into a job are better potential paths.
If you go to a community college, the price of you dropping out will be significantly lower, whereas if you attend a four-year university, you will likely have a lot of student debt that still needs to be paid back. Community colleges are also more accepting of students who may need to work in addition to attending college. According to the Community College Research Center at Columbia University, 69 percent of community college students work while they attend school, and 33 percent work more than 35 hours per week.
Further, many students have children, which means they have to manage their classes as well as be a parent. Community colleges understand the different challenges that students may face and give students the potential to craft an educational experience around their unique circumstances.
More night and weekend classes than traditional four-year universities are also good reasons to attend community college. Plus, many community colleges are also starting to offer more summer courses so that people can catch up on their studies before the start of the next academic year. These options give people who need to work or take care of a child more flexibility over when they study and make it easier for them to manage their busy schedules.
"Career Karma entered my life when I needed it most and quickly helped me match with a bootcamp. Two months after graduating, I found my dream job that aligned with my values and goals in life!"
Venus, Software Engineer at Rockbot
Another example of how community college offers flexibility is the application and admissions process. You don’t need any previous experience to attend community college, just a high school diploma or equivalent. For the best community colleges in Chicago and around the US, the applicant interview isn’t nearly as nerve-wracking as it is for universities.
5. Campus Life is Changing
The student experience and campus life at community colleges are changing to become more like four-year institutions. Indeed, many people have the perception that community colleges offer a poorer campus experience. However, community colleges are investing more resources in developing student experiences similar to those offered by four-year institutions.
Over one-quarter of community colleges now offer dorm rooms, according to a 2016 report from the American Association of Community Colleges. More community colleges are also offering extracurricular activities, and networking events to help students become more engaged on campus.
Community colleges have also invested a lot of resources in creating highly personalized offerings, which are often better than those offered by four-year institutions. Basic courses at a four-year school often have between 150 and 300 students, depending on the course. The same class at a community college, with significantly lower student rolls, may have between 25 and 50 students.
That means students have more opportunities to interact with their professors and can be given more personalized attention by their instructors. It’s often easier for students to schedule one-on-one time with instructors because they have fewer students to teach, and when students need help they are more likely to be able to talk to their instructor to navigate their issues.
More personalized attention and smaller classes are certainly reasons to attend community college as this results in better student support. Although the campus life and student experience at community college are still different from that offered by four-year institutions, this is quickly changing.
What Does the Future of Community College Look Like for Prospective Students?
Community college students enjoy several benefits when it comes to applying to university. Students are 75 percent more likely to graduate after having spent two years at a community college. Offering transfers also help universities bring greater diversity to their student body, and allow more community college students, who often come from underrepresented backgrounds, to have a chance at attaining a four-year bachelor’s degree.
But some college administrators remain reluctant to expand access to a partner program for a variety of reasons, including a fear that it will hurt the institution’s reputation, and that students may not be able to keep up with the pressure of a four-year university. However, it appears as if these risks can be addressed, and either way community college will play a key role in the future of higher education.
Although community colleges continue to be seen as quaint institutions that are not fit for some people, that image is incorrect. Community colleges act as a key pipeline for universities and give students the chance to explore their options before committing to a four-year institution.
Indeed, community colleges may lack a big campus with lots of activities for students, but they make up for it by offering more flexibility. To facilitate a change toward making it easier for more students to attend community college, four-year universities need to form new partnerships to help their students transfer credits. Because four-year institutions continue to be much more expensive than community colleges, more people will see the latter as a starting point in their higher education learning experience.
Should I Attend Community College in 2022?
Yes, there are many goods reasons to attend community college in 2022. You should attend community college if you want to gain basic-level skills for your dream career while avoiding student debt.
Community college arms students with what they need to start an entry-level job or progress into university. Attending any of the best community colleges in Chicago or anywhere in the US also means you can experience further education before studying for four years.
If you feel the average community college cost is still too much for you, there are financial aid solutions available too. Plus, many community colleges are beginning to offer the same spectrum of student activities, clubs, and career events as universities. Whether you want a career in software engineering or nursing, community college can help you get started.
Reasons to Attend Community College FAQ
Anybody with a high school diploma or equivalent can attend community college. You don’t need any prior experience, and the admissions process is quite seamless. Because it is so simple to attend community college, more students from underrepresented communities and low-income households have a shot at further education.
It costs about $10,300 per annum to attend community college. This figure may change as you’re searching for the best community college in Chicago, Dallas, Florida, and so forth. You also need to consider the difference between in-state and out-of-state studying. Some community colleges offer online programs too, which may cost less than in-person studying.
Neither option is better than the other. It depends on the person studying, what they want to study, how much they can afford, and what their career goals are. Community college is certainly more affordable and flexible.
Yes, community college is worth it if you can’t afford university and you want to learn foundational skills for your career. These colleges also cater to the schedules of students who have day jobs or who are parents. Although the tuition fees are affordable, community colleges have financial aid solutions too.
About us: Career Karma is a platform designed to help job seekers find, research, and connect with job training programs to advance their careers. Learn about the CK publication.