Community vs. Other Colleges

With so many higher education options, we compare community colleges against other institutions to help you find the best option for your needs. We’ll look at how community colleges are outperforming 4-year schools, study the latest data on the ROI of community colleges and explore why more students are turning to them.
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As the cost of tuition continues to increase at institutions of higher education across the country, many students are considering a transition to community college once they earn their high school diploma. Although these schools were once considered below par in terms of postsecondary education, the quality provided by many community colleges has been on track with many four-year schools today. The focus on community colleges by the Obama Administration has resulted in additional funding and industry-focused training that increases employment opportunities once the degree is earned. We have eight reasons why community college might be the best choice for some high school graduates.

Affordability
 
Although tuition is getting more expensive across the board, community colleges are still significantly more affordable than most four-year institutions. The average annual rate to attend a four-year university could run as high as $30,000 or more, while the annual tuition at a community college probably won’t cost much more than $5,000. In addition, many community college students continue to live at home while taking classes, saving money on room and board as well. 

Based upon our prior calculations comparing a community college with a private four-year university, you could end up saving $80,000 by attending community college for two years first

With more affordable prices overall, community college students often find they can foot the bill for their education without having to take on a significant amount of debt prior to graduation. Considering that many university students graduate with debt in the . . . read more

In the past, four-year universities always seemed to carry more prestige and practical professional preparation than their two-year counterparts. However, as prices for universities continue to rise and community colleges expand their fields of study and improve their quality, the field of higher education appears to be changing. Today, community college enrollment is increasing exponentially at schools across the country, while four-year institutions have seen a small drop in student population within the past year. We’ll take a look at the numbers and explore some of the reasons why more students might be choosing to go to community college today.
 
Changing Times or One-Time Blip?
 
According to a recent story in the Courier-News, national college enrollment figures dropped last year by about two percentage points. While a single-year statistic is nothing to write home about, many financial experts see this downturn as the beginning of a trend – the burst of the bubble on higher education. Some attribute the lower enrollment to fewer jobs and higher tuition rates that make parents and students alike question the real value of a bachelor’s degree today.
 
At the same time, enrollment numbers for many community colleges across the country continue to rise. And enrollment isn’t the only statistic that is going up. The Courier-News also reported that Waubonsee Community College in Illinois graduated its largest class in history this past spring. Elgin Community College followed suit with their most recent graduating class. 
 
Waubonsee spokeman Jeff Noblitt told the Courier-News, “That’s . . . read more

Since he took office, President Obama has been pushing to raise the community college graduation rate as an answer to our currently sluggish workforce and economy. A recent study on the earnings of college grads proves that the president might be right on track – at least in the state of Florida. The study, reported in the Miami Herald, shows that community college graduates tend to earn a higher average salary after school than students graduating from state universities.

What the Numbers Show
 
According to figures that were included in a report to the Florida State Board of Education Meeting held in December, community college graduates who earned associate in science degrees from Florida community colleges earned an average annual salary of $47,708 right out of school. By the same token, students who graduated from one of the state's 11 public university earned an average annual salary of just $36,552. The difference, around $11,000 per year, is not insignificant for those just starting out in the professional world, particularly those who might be graduating with a decent amount of student debt.
 
Graduates of vocational programs offered through community colleges also seemed to do well after graduation, with much less time invested up front. According to a report at Community College Spotlight, students who graduated from programs that took six months or less to complete earned an average annual salary of $37, 356. Those who completed certificate training in a specific industry earned an . . . read more

As community colleges struggle with over-crowding and a lack of funding, for-profit colleges are offering to help, giving community college students the opportunity to earn transferable credits at low tuition rates.

Kaplan’s Online Courses Can Count Towards Community College Degrees
 
The Wall Street Journal reports that Kaplan University, a for-profit college owned by the Washington Post Co., is offering California community college students the option of taking courses at its online schools. These credits can be applied towards a degree at their home campuses.
 
In addition, the newly created Community College Connections program will allow students to take Kaplan’s online courses at a 42% discount, which will make the cost of courses similar to that of a community college course.
 
Kaplan will also allow graduates of California’s community colleges to transfer to one of its degree programs and complete their bachelor’s degrees at a 10% discount, according to the Wall Street Journal.
 
Community College Credits Count Towards B.A. Degrees at Bridgepoint
 
Meanwhile, Ashford University, which is operated by Bridgepoint Education Inc., is signing articulation agreements with a number of community colleges and public universities and colleges. The articulation agreements usually outline that students transferring from the community college or public university may transfer up to 90 credits towards earning their degrees from Ashford University.
 
A press release issued by Bridgepoint indicates that Ashford University has signed 38 such articulation agreements and formed alliances with 138 community colleges and four-year universities.
 
Bridgepoint Education, Inc. offers its courses through two institutions – Ashford University . . . read more

The face of college education in America is changing, especially on community college campuses. While community colleges were once unfairly labeled as “13th grade,” these two-year institutions now provide plentiful opportunities for high-achieving students to challenge themselves.  Indeed, a growing number of high school valedictorians and honors students are enrolling in community colleges afterhigh school
 
Community Colleges Increasingly Serving the Best and the Brightest
 
Prompted in part by economic concerns, a number of top high school students are choosing to forego enrollment at prestigious four-year universities in favor of spending their first two years in an honors program at a community college.  Indeed, the savings can be dramatic, and these students can save $80,000 by attending community college first, instead of a private college.  
 
These honors programs, most of which are highly selective and academically rigorous, are designed to provide academically talented students with intellectual challenges for an affordable price, and they are more popular now than they have ever been.

Honors Programs at Two-Year Colleges Are Thriving


A recent article in the Washington Post reported that applications to community college honors programs are growing at a quicker rate than general applications, which are also on the rise. Honors programs of particular note include:

* The Montgomery Scholars program of Maryland's Montgomery College. This highly selective program, which is ten years old, has only 25 seats available and received a record 275 applications for Fall 2009, according to the Post.

* The Rouse . . . read more
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COMMUNITY VS. OTHER COLLEGES