10 reasons to choose a community college

Published 10:39 pm Thursday, July 9, 2009

In my June 17 column, fast facts about American Community Colleges were featured. On that same date (coincidentally), an article entitled “10 Reasons to Pick a Community College,” written by Lynn F. Jacobs and Jeremy S. Hyman, appeared on a U.S. News and World Report blog.

While there are many reasons that nearly half of American undergraduates start their higher education in a community college, Jacobs and Hyman identified the following top ten:

1. Affordability. The average annual tuition and fees for full-time students at community colleges are $2,402, versus $6,585 at a public four-year college or university and $25,143 at a private institution.

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2. Convenience. In addition to traditional day classes, community colleges offer classes at times and locations convenient for students (off-campus, in the evenings or on weekends, on line). And students can attend on a part-time or full-time basis.

3. Open Access. Anyone with a high school diploma or equivalent can enroll in a community college, and some do so while still in high school to get an early start.

4. Teaching Quality. Community college classes are taught by faculty who care about teaching and student learning—not by teaching assistants. Community college teachers are fully committed to teaching and are not pulled away by research or the need to publish to meet tenure requirements.

5. Class Size. Class size at community colleges is much smaller than freshman and sophomore classes at public universities, with most classes having less than 35 students.

6. Support Services. Community colleges provide a variety of services to help students, including counseling, advising, tutorials, health care, financial aid and library assistance. And computer labs are typically available on campus to make it easier for students to complete assignments.

7. Choices. Offering vocational and academic transfer programs, community colleges, for example, prepare most of the nation’s registered nurses, police officers, paramedics, firefighters and advanced-skill technicians.

8. Diversity. Community colleges serve the most diverse group of students in all of higher education, providing the opportunity to interact and learn from other students with different backgrounds.

9. Access to Modern Technology. Since community colleges form partnerships with business and industry, they often have cutting-edge equipment that is used by students in the classroom.

10. Good Company. For students who feel discouraged by the prospect of attending a community college, versus their first-choice university, following are examples of people who started in a community college: J. Craig Venter, who mapped the human genome; Richard Carmona, former U.S. surgeon general; Eileen Collins, the first NASA female commander; Harry Reid, Senate majority leader; and Nolan Ryan, retired baseball pitcher.

For information on options available at YOUR community college, call 569-6700 or visit www.pdc.edu.

Dr. Patsy Joyner is the vice president for Institutional Advancement at Paul D. Camp Community College.