Stigma about Community College: What to Consider

Alicia Kilian, Staff Writer

As college application deadlines are coming to a close, many students are solidifying the paths they will take after their graduation. Many of these have been constructed over the course of many months, if not years. They can vary from taking a gap year to work or travel, enlisting in the military, or going along the traditional and arguably expected route of going to college. Many students are excited about their future at Ivy League universities or state colleges, but some are making the decision to go to a community college. With this comes a lot of negative stigma, but what are the great sides of community college as opposed to more prestigious institutions?

For starters, community colleges have a much lower price tag then other public or even in-state schools. Massachusetts students can use this to their advantage due to the Mass Transfer program, which allows graduates to transfer their credits to UMASS institutions or accredited state schools. This way, they will complete their masters degrees, but spend only their junior and senior years paying full college tuition. This is not only more affordable for low-income students, but perhaps an option for those looking to save money in the long run. Location also tends to be a factor in the total tuition cost of a community college. By staying local, many students at community colleges don’t have to pay for a dorm room or for out-of-state tuition. Even if you chose not to dorm at an in-state college, traveling can not only be time consuming, but also costly.

Community colleges also provide very flexible schedules. This can be especially helpful for those working full time to either support themselves or their families. The more flexible the schedule, the more opportunities to work and save money for future expenses. The offers of night and weekend classes are also convenient for many. Online courses can be useful for those constantly on the move or more people who are more productive at home.

Even if you’re not sure about what you’d want to do as a career, community college can help you explore different fields without paying huge sums of money for something you may not be satisfied with. Community college offers broad and vocational programs that can allow students to experiment and narrow down future interests. Even if you don’t pursue the career paths of the classes you take, they can help spark your interest in different hobbies, from art to freelance writing.

While you may not get to brag about going to a school with a low acceptance rate, community college is definitely a great option for many students. It doesn’t deserve the stigma it gets, and can be a great alternative to not only expand your horizons, but to also save money and have a flexible schedule.