Frugal students opt for 2-year colleges

In tough times, frugal students are starting at community colleges in Southern New Hampshire and Massachusetts’ Merrimack Valley, reports the Eagle-Tribune in North Andover, MA.

Kaila Nicholson of Kingston wants to join a SWAT team. Dayanna Martes of Lawrence is studying business. Aja Metcalf of Salem is majoring in exercise science.

The Northern Essex Community College students are looking forward to the day when they can start their new careers — without being burdened with thousands of dollars in student loan debt.

Students expect to save at least $20,000 in tuition, room and board by starting their path to a bachelor’s degree at a local community college.

Martes was offered an $18,000 scholarship to Newbury College, but calculated living at home and attending NECC was more affordable.

Nicholson, who is studying criminal justice, said she’s now paying $5,000 a year, compared to $30,000 a year at Southern New Hampshire University, where she attended for one semester.  NECC is smaller and provides more individual attention, she said. “I think it’s a good school and the teachers here are really good,” Nicholson said. “And it’s cheaper.”

Ever since the recession began several years ago, community college officials in New Hampshire and Massachusetts say they are seeing significant increases in enrollment as students and their families struggle to foot the rising costs of higher education.

News coverage of rising college costs has scared students and parents, said NECC spokesman Ernie Greenslade.

New Hampshire graduates owed an average of $32,450, the largest debt load in the nation, according to The Institute for College Access & Success. Massachusetts ranked 14th at $27,181.

POSTED BY Joanne Jacobs ON November 26, 2012

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As a community college graduate and a transfer student at small private liberal arts college, I agree with some of the sentiments of this review of an article. While CC is obviously less expensive, there are some tremendous disadvantages to not attending a four year institution from the start.
1. Campus involvement. It can take two semesters to feel comfortable on a new campus, and to learn where and how to engage with student and school run organizations. The learning curve can limit the amount of campus involvement a student has at either institution. While, I know this is not the primary goal of higher ed, student involvement correlates with student success.

2. Adjunct Faculty. Community colleges often have more adjunct faculty than tenure track faculty. I had more adjuncts as a student at a community college than tenure track faculty. Some of them were excellent teachers and well versed in their subjects. Others were terrible, and there was nothing that could be done about their poor performance.

3. Research. As a student at a small liberal arts college, I have had the ability to work closely with members of the faculty on their research, as well as on my own independent research. This is an opportunity simply not available at community colleges. The resources and time required for research is not provided to the faculty at community colleges.

4. Retention and completion rates at community colleges are not impressive, and negatively affect the learning environment at the institutions.

Those are a few reasons that deserve consideration. Sometimes you truly receive what you pay for. Now all that being said, I had an excellent overall experience at a community college. I was taught by some of the most dedicated and encouraging faculty I have ever met. I was able to repair a troubling high school transcript, and the small environment was exactly what I needed at the time.

Community college is an excellent option, but not the only option.

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