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Community college could be the right place to start your education
Myths abound when it comes to community college, but you can't know if it's right for you unless you have the facts. Do these misconceptions sound familiar?
I shouldn't go to community college unless I want a vo-tech career.
You can start out at a community college and end up in any career if, like many community college students, you transfer to a four-year college after graduation. In fact, one of the reasons community colleges were set up was to offer students an affordable way to earn a degree from a four-year college or university.
Nobody who is anybody goes to community college.
Plenty of famous people and high achievers started out at community college. Here's a short list of stellar alum:
Community college is just high school with ashtrays.
Don't let the open-admissions policies of community colleges fool you. Community college is college. You'll be expected to perform at a high level, just as you would at any other college. The fact that anyone can attend doesn't mean you won't find your studies challenging and enriching.
Community college is for older students and students who work full time.
Students 18 to 24 make up one of the largest groups on community college campuses. Sure, community colleges are flexible, making them attractive to older and working students, but this flexibility benefits younger students as well. You'll be able to take classes at night or during the day, and you can attend part time or full time.
I can't get financial aid if I go to community college.
Even though tuition at community colleges is low, financial aid is available. The Federal Pell Grant, for example, is open to students attending any accredited post-secondary school. You can even qualify — for a smaller amount — if you go to school part time.
Transferring from community college to a four-year college is too tough.
Transferring does require careful planning, but community colleges are set up to help you achieve your goal. You'll meet regularly with an academic advisor who will help you stay on track, making sure you take the right courses to prepare for a major at a four-year school. Earning the grades you need to get into the school of your choice is ultimately up to you, but you'll also find plenty of on-campus support, such as tutors and writing centers.
Four-year colleges don't accept community college credits.
Students who transfer often benefit from articulation agreements between their community colleges and local four-year schools. Articulation agreements smooth the way because they list, in writing, which courses at the two-year college correspond to courses at the four-year college. With careful planning, most or all of your credits will transfer.
I'll never survive a four-year college after attending a community college.
Research shows that students who transfer from a community college earn grades equal to, if not better than, students who begin their college careers at a four-year college or university. You may have to weather "transfer shock," the roughly half-point drop in Grade Point Average often experienced by students after their first semester at a four-year college. However, high school students face a similar transition when they start college and also experience a drop in their GPA. If you're like most students, your GPA will perk up soon after your first semester.
Community college students drop out.
You might have heard that 40 to 50 percent of community college students drop out within a year after starting. The research behind this statistic is flawed, however, because it does not account for students who leave one school to attend another. Plus, a recent government study has found that community college students are far more likely to stick it out than previously thought.
Community colleges are all the same.
There are more than 1,200 diverse community colleges across the country. They differ in size, course offerings, support services, campus life, student bodies and faculty. In fact, you can use College Search at www.collegeboard.com to shop around for the right fit, just as you would shop for a four-year college or university.
Source: “Community College: Myths vs. Reality” Copyright © 2010, the College Board. www.collegeboard.com. Reproduced with permission.
Last updated by Morgen Thiboult Jul 26, 2011.