Choosing a School

Whether you are a high school student, an adult student, or someone looking for retraining, we have all the resources you need to make an educated choice about the right community college for you. We’ll compare community colleges to other institutions of higher education, explore college rankings and the accreditation system, and provide useful tips to ensure your community college credits transfer easily.
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There is no doubt that the cost of a college education is increasing, but as that price tag continues to go up, the general perception is now that college may not be the investment it was once touted to be. While colleges nationwide have worked to buck that idea, the bottom line doesn’t lie – nor does the astronomical total of student debt racked up in this country today. Is there a way to invest in a college education without breaking the bank?

Country Financial Survey Reveals Concerns over College Costs Growing
A new national survey by Country Financial shows that many are continuing to question the value of a college education today. According to the publication, the survey found that just over half of the Americans interviewed this year thought a college degree was still a worthwhile investment. That number has dropped significantly since 2008, when 81 percent saw college as a good deal.
Despite the telltale data into America’s perception of the value of a college degree, higher debt balances to obtain those degrees have become more acceptable. According to the Country Financial website, the survey found that 42 percent of Americans believe student debt in excess of $20,000 is acceptable today. That number contrasts with the 31 percent that found that amount acceptable just last year. By the same token, the number of subjects who thought debt under $20,000 was acceptable declined to 50 percent, after numbers were at 61 percent in 2011.
Debt Concerns Guide College Decisions
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Many college students are getting their start at community colleges today, providing a cost-effective path to four-year degree program. However, the plan only works if all those credits earned at the community college successfully transfer to the four-year degree program. To ensure the transfer process works properly, students must plan in advance for the transition from one school to the next. We have 10 tips to help students make the community college transfer process as smooth as possible.

Look for Articulation Agreements
Articulation agreements are transfer agreements between two and four-year schools. According to The College Insider, these articulation agreements may even guarantee admission into the four-year school if students meet course and GPA requirements. When formal agreements are in place, there is no worry over which course credits will transfer and which ones won’t. The program is clearly laid out ahead of time, making the transfer process smooth sailing for students.
Find Your Area of Interest
Community college is a budget-friendly place to explore various fields of study before heading to a four-year institution. Students who use their first two years at community college to identify their major will be that much farther along when they move to the next level. At the same time, students are fulfilling undergraduate requirements at the community college, so they can move directly into their major area of study when they move to the four-year school – and the higher tuition prices.
Start Early
Students should begin the transfer process as early as
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Many community colleges across the country have transfer agreements with four-year schools, which allow students to easily transfer credits from the community college level and apply them toward a four-year degree program. Now, a whole new type of program is cropping up among two and four-year schools from coast to coast. Instead of transferring credits from community colleges to universities, schools are now allowing agreeing to reverse transfers, which allow students to take credits from their four-year institution and apply them to their community college degree.

The Reverse Transfer System is Introduced
While transfers to four-year schools provide clear benefits and a subsequent rise in popularity, the assurance of transferring credits from the university level to the local community college creates a more complex array of advantages. This process is a relatively new one that is just beginning to be introduced in college systems nationwide.
Many students who begin their college work at a community college move to a four-year institution before completing their associate degree. While credits may transfer to the four-year school, the student is left without a degree to underscore the work they put into their first college efforts. Until the bachelor’s degree is finished – which may take many more years of education – the student has little to show for his time, effort and money.
At the same time, community colleges are forced to report dismal completion rates – in some cases possibly affecting their ability to receive funding. However, many of these students
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Community colleges have experienced a mixed reputation over their 100-year history. On the one hand, these institutions have been traditionally viewed as the lesser choice in higher education. Other opinions have elevated these schools to the most direct way to train for the job market.  Which view is more accurate? Today, the latter appears to be a more prevalent one, particularly in light of the fact that many four-year schools are now trying to capitalize on the same features community colleges have boasted since the very beginning.

Career Training Begins at Community College
Since their inception, community colleges have been focused on vocational training. According to a report at the Times Herald-Record, these schools were originally created in the early part of the 20th century for the sole purpose of getting people into the workforce as quickly as possible. Fraternizing with academics and dabbling in philosophical thought processes were seen as counterproductive in this model of higher education.
While community colleges might have met their goals from a vocational standpoint, their singular focus also may have gained them a reputation as less academic schools than four-year colleges and universities. Those who wanted the true higher education experience would venture into the hallowed halls of those institutions perceived as factories for intellectuals and philosophers. However, when jobs become scarce and industries begin to fizzle, the practical application of higher education becomes much more revered.
Community Colleges Coin a Phrase Now Used by Four-Year Schools
Now we are at the beginning of the
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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.

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
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Choosing a School

Getting Started

This section provides an in depth look at choosing the right community college. We’ll cover the reasons why community college is a good choice and the best steps to take when making your decision. Find tips and resources to aid in your search for the perfect school.

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.

College Rankings & Accreditation

Are you attending one of the best community colleges? Do rankings matter? From the best schools in the US to those losing accreditation, we’ll provide you with the latest resources on community college rankings.

Transfer Process

Many community college students transfer to four-year institutions. Be prepared to make a swift and easy transfer with these articles. Determine the most transfer-friendly universities, learn why some 4-year schools are limiting transfer students, and get tips on ensuring your credits go with you.