There are lots of reasons to begin, continue, or complete your college education at a California community college. Here are some that may apply to you.
1. Increase Your Earning Power.
College graduates make more money on average than high school graduates. In fact, many employers now hire only college graduates, even for entry-level positions. But that doesn't mean you need four years at a major university. Even if you plan to get a bachelor's degree, starting out at a community college may be your best choice for a number of reasons. The following chart shows the ways that education pays.
Salary Surfer, which can be viewed at salarysurfer.cccco.edu, displays median annual incomes for those who complete 179 of the most widely enrolled program areas and do not transfer to a four-year institution. The data show the median earnings for community college graduates two years prior to earning the award, then two years and five years after earning either a certificate or degree.
An analysis of the data contained on Salary Surfer shows that students who complete an associate degree more than double their annual pre-degree earnings after two years in the workforce and nearly triple their pre-degree earnings after five years in the workforce.
2. Spend a Lot Less.
Everyone knows that costs at four-year colleges are high and going higher. On the other hand, California Community Colleges have the lowest fees in the nation. Even if you can afford the cost of a four-year college, you've probably got other things you could spend that money on.
3. Take the Most Direct Route to the Job You Want.
Spending four years getting a bachelor's degree may not be the route you want to take. Maybe you want to be a chef, a medical or dental assistant, or work in law enforcement. California Community Colleges offer lots of programs that can have you job-ready within two years or less.
4. Chart Your Educational Future.
Some students enter college knowing exactly what they want to study, but many do not. If you're not sure about the educational path you want to follow, community colleges can help with career advisement and help you develop an education plan to assist you in reaching your goals on time.
5. Experience a Different Educational Environment.
Even if your goal is a bachelor's degree, there are often good reasons for not spending four years at the same college. By first attending community college and then completing your degree at a four-year college, you'll have two college experiences instead of one. Your education will be broadened and enriched by two different student bodies, two different campuses, perhaps two different geographic regions—all of which will help prepare you for what comes after college.
6. Find Classes to Fit a Busy Schedule.
Not everyone has the luxury of being "just" a college student. You may need to make college fit in with a job or family responsibilities. With classes in the evening, on weekends, and even online, community colleges offer the flexibility to help you proceed with your education while doing the other things you need to do in your life.
7. Go to College without Leaving Home.
Almost anywhere you live in California, you'll find a community college within commuting distance that reflects the diversity of your community. If you're going directly from high school to college, community college gives you the option to continue living at home. This can help lower the cost of college, as well as let you focus on education rather than the lifestyle changes that come with going away to college.
8. Learn in Smaller Classes from Experienced Instructors.
At four-year colleges, it's common for many of the classes you'll typically take in your first two years to be huge (sometimes more than 300 students), relatively impersonal, and conducted by teaching assistants rather than professors. At a community college, class sizes will be much smaller, and classes are taught by experienced instructors who can give you personal attention when you need it.
9. Get a Second Chance at Your Four-Year Choice.
If, coming out of high school, you were not accepted by your chosen four-year college, that doesn't mean you can never go there. Find out from the four-year college or your community college transfer center what you can do to strengthen your admission application. Then prepare yourself at a community college for a successful admission application as a transfer student.
Copyright 2012 by the California Community Colleges Chancellor's Office