3 Reasons to Consider Community College during Your Academic Journey

Like many young adults, my academic future was decided on by my parents long before I could even read or write. In my household, success was defined by how well you performed in school and whether you received a degree or not. That’s why, even without a clear idea of ‘what I wanted to be when I grew up’, I knew I would receive my college degree one day.

After several university acceptance letters, multiple campus visits, and much back-and-forths, I decided to follow the path of least resistance. For me, that path was attending my local community college to work on my associate’s degree. Nearly 10 years later, I have no regrets. I would follow that path all over again if I could.

Sure, maybe that small campus didn’t have a cool game room, a massive food court, or a talented football team, but it did offer all the necessities a college student could need. That small campus is where I met my husband of six years nearly a decade ago.

When it comes to pursuing higher education, bigger isn’t always better. Below are three reasons to consider community college during your academic journey.

It saves you money (a lot of it)

If you’re fortunate enough to have parents willing to support you and pay your way through college, by all means, take all the help you can get. However, if you’re on your own and don’t have a trust fund to fall back on, make sure to assess all your options before going into debt for a college degree.

For Maricopa County, Arizona residents attending a Maricopa Community College, the cost per credit hour is only $85. Assuming the student is full-time and enrolled in four classes worth three credits each (12 credits total), that’s $1,020 per semester (or $2,040 per year). The base tuition at Arizona State University for an Arizona resident is $10,978 per year.

Based on those numbers, I saved nearly $20,000 by choosing to work on my general classes and receive my associate’s degree at a community college versus a state university.

It buys you time

While finances played a critical role in my decision to begin my college degree journey at a community college, having the freedom to take classes without the pressure to decide on a career was a breath of fresh air. Since most undergraduate degrees have similar prerequisite classes, I focused on completing those courses. I figured that an English 101 course is better when it costs $255 versus taking that same class for over $1,000 at a larger campus.

Most colleges have great advisors who can confirm what credits are necessary to transfer to a university if that’s the next step in your academic journey. Once I decided on a major, my advisor helped me confirm which classes I still needed before transferring to a university. I’m proud to say I earned my associate’s degree from a community college in two years. Then, transferred to a state university and took another two years to earn my bachelor’s degree.

Same degree. Different journey. Amazing benefits.

It offers flexible schedules

One of the biggest perks about attending community college versus a larger state university is their flexible schedules, including evening sessions for busy students and summer classes to expedite the process.

As a young mom, having options helped me coordinate childcare and ensure my daughter was taken care of while I attended classes and completed assignments. In addition to the flexible schedules and variety of classes, community college campuses are also usually closer and easier to access than a university campus.

I must have saved hundreds, if not thousands of dollars on gas, parking fees, and extra childcare by attending a community college before transferring to a university.