High school students looking at four-year college options should consider a community college, writes Owen Sutkowski, director of the Transfer Resource Center at Central Piedmont Community College, in USA Today. While most know community colleges charge much less than four-year schools, there are other benefits:
1. The small college feel with the resources of a university is a campus experience many students seek. Community college classes are commonly less than 50 students and many campuses are the same size as a small private four-year college. . . .
2. Connecting to and networking with professionals in the field continues to open doors for internships and interviews. Many professors at two-year colleges work directly in their field . . . .
3. The ability to transfer from a community college to obtain a bachelor’s degree can be a seamless transition. Many states offer guaranteed acceptance into a public four-year college for students who complete an associate’s degree at a community college. . . .
4. Community colleges offer a variety of hands on experiences for students to apply the skills they learn in the classroom. Many classes have required internships, co-ops and other valuable experiences that get students out and into the field. Two-year colleges also work to build relationships with businesses in the area so students can work with companies while still in class. . . .
5. The ability to earn a credential or certificate in as little as one semester means students can get into their professional field of interest sooner, rather than later. Many two-year college students earn several credentials on their way to an associate’s degree . . .
On the negative side: Because so many students are part-timers, there may not be a “college feel” on campus. It’s hard to network with adjunct professors because they’re not around much. The “seamless” transfer is not always a reality. Many community colleges can’t offer enough classes to meet student demand.