There's been a lot of talk recently about whether a four-year college degree is worth the cost and, for most students, the debt that comes along with it. One good alternative to a four-year university that isn't mentioned as often as it could be is community college. These local, more affordable, post-secondary education options can increase a student's earning potential without the time and financial commitment required by a traditional university. However, money is just one of several good reasons to opt for a community college.
Benefits of opting for community college
1. Cost. The average cost of a four-year university degree in the United States at a public university is more than $24,000 for one academic year. In contrast, the cost of a two-year associates degree at a community college is just $3,100 per year on average. Plus, since most community colleges are located within commuting distance, students can save the cost of room and board.
2. Specialized training. One of the reasons that community colleges are less expensive than traditional universities are that they forego general education in favor of intensive training for specific jobs, such as food service and medical technology.
3. Flexibility. Courses at community colleges are more suited to part-time students, such as mothers with small children, those with a full-time job or older students who want to ease themselves back gradually into academic life. According to "US News and World Report," about 60 percent of community college students attend college part time. Another way that community colleges are flexible is that most allow students to transfer their credits to a four-year university if they decide that they want more intensive study.
4. More one-on-one attention. Community colleges also tend to have a lower student-to-teacher ratio than four-year universities, especially during the first year. This not only helps to encourage students to stick with their education, but can help students to learn at their own pace.
5. Time to increase GPA average. For students who started focusing on their studies late in their high school career, community college can offer additional time to boost the student's grade point average, making it easier to be accepted into the four-year university of their choice.
While community college might not be the right choice for every student, this type of educational facility is much less expensive, is more flexible for part-time students and takes less time to earn a degree than a traditional four-year university.