James Fent, LMFT, PT, SUDCC IV
First and foremost, community colleges provide quality education with a focus on teaching excellence and subject matter expertise. In addition to quality education, community colleges provide flexible scheduling from day and night classes to online courses. With a focus on student needs, community colleges strive to make the education experience as enjoyable as possible while preparing students for success.
Community colleges are convenient, accessible, and affordable. Martha Parham, senior vice president of public relations at the American Association of Community Colleges states “Cost is certainly one of the primary reasons why someone should consider a community college.” The college data board states that community colleges cost on average about one-third the cost of in-state tuition at four-year public universities. Additionally, community colleges have resources available providing generous financial aid and scholarships that can eliminate financial barriers students may have.
Community colleges provide extensive support services to a student body of diverse ages, maturity levels, ethnicities, and lifestyles. For example, students can receive academic support services such as tutoring, writing skills, peer note-taking, textbook assistance, and accommodations for testing. Students also benefit from health services, mental health counseling, and career planning. Community colleges partner with universities, employers, student assistance programs, military, local community government, and other institutions and a variety of programs, internships, grants, and initiatives.
Community colleges are accredited by the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (ACCJC/WASC), an institutional accrediting body recognized by the Council of Higher Education Accreditation and the Department of Education. This is important for students who want to transfer to a four-year college and who have higher education aspirations. Accreditation avoids ‘for profit’ commercial institutions promising outcomes to a student which the so-called ‘college’ can not or does not produce.
Many community colleges have transfer agreements with local four-year universities. These agreements allow students who complete specific requirements, at a fraction of the cost, to easily transfer into a four-year program at a nearby university. Transfer students can then earn a bachelor’s degree while having to pay only two years of more costly tuition. Community college allows students to reset their academic and social/emotional reputation from high school and can be an economically affordable entry into higher education before transferring to a four-year program.
Relationships are important and community colleges develop strong relationships with students, faculty, staff, and organizations that can help students reach their learning and career goals. Community colleges are excellent for networking especially with local businesses and community influencers. By providing internships, mentoring programs, and other student-centered programs, the community college helps students achieve success.
In addition to professional and career networking, students can be socially involved in many other ways. These diverse activities range from athletics to performing arts, and from clubs of varying interests to student government.
It is important to take advantage of what a college offers, and community colleges offer a lot!