(Written by Lori McCormick)
Guaranteed admissions (with a GED or high school diploma), affordable tuition ($46 per unit), 112 campuses to choose from, housing at some campuses, and the option to transfer to a four-year university. What's not to love?
With more than 2.1 million students, the California Community College system is the largest in the United States. According to the California Community Colleges Chancellor's Office, here are some pretty impressive data points:
- California community colleges educate 70 percent of our state's nurses.
- California community colleges train 80 percent of firefighters, law enforcement personnel, and emergency medical technicians.
- Twenty-nine percent of University of California and 51 percent of California State University graduates started at a California community college.
- Transfer students from the California Community Colleges to the University of California system currently account for 48 percent of UC's bachelor's degrees in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
- Community colleges offer associate degrees and short-term job training certificates in more than 175 fields, and more than 100,000 individuals are trained each year in industry-specific workforce skills.
- Nearly 42 percent of all California veterans receiving GI educational benefits attend a California community college for workforce training, to earn an associate degree or to work toward transferring to a four-year university.
Attending community college is an opportunity for a student to advance into higher education at an affordable rate. And, since " undecided" tends to be a popular major for many college bound freshmen, why not take general education classes at the community college and spend that time deciding what your intended major will be, then transfer? I have also found community college to be a clean slate for students who really wanted to attend an elite four-year, such as UCLA, but did not get accepted out of high school. Attending community college while working with the Transfer Center and their TAG (Transfer Admissions Guarantee) program can provide a second chance for admissions at a campus like UCLA, UC Davis, UC Berkeley, UC San Diego, and University of San Diego.
However, community college is not for everyone. If a student is not academically, emotionally, or financially prepared for college, community college is a wonderful starting point. For others, attending a community college might hinder their higher education pursuit. In a previous post I wrote, someone commented that going the community college then pursuing the transfer route could be even more stressful for a student. This is definitely a factor to consider. Applying to community college is not a simple one-step process. You must first apply, then schedule and take placement exams, then meet with a counselor, then enroll in classes and pay for them. Phew! That is a lot of work and then you'd have to do it all over again when you apply to a four-year as a transfer.
The good news is students have choices. With over 3,000 colleges in the United States, feel assured knowing there is a college that will meet all of your academic, social, geographical, and financial goals. Speak with your high school counselor, advisor, or college and career center and learn about Open Houses at local community colleges. You might just fall in love with a community college.