What do George Lucas, Amy Tan. Steve Jobs, Guy Fieri and Walt Disney have in common?
I bet you can guess, based on the title of this blog post.
The quick answer is “success.” Each of these men and women is incredibly successful. And build great wealth.
Guess what else they have in common?
They all got their start at a community college.
That’s hard to believe, right? Community college has gotten such a bad rap over the years that kids do everything they can to avoid it. The truth is that it can be a great way to start the college experience. It didn’t slow these successful people down, and it won’t slow your child down, either.
Still not convinced that community college is the way to go when your child graduates high school? Check out some reasons that community college is a great start.
You don’t want your child to be saddled with debt upon graduation, and that makes community college the smart choice. The average annual cost of tuition and fees for the 2017–18 school year was $3,570 for public, in-district community colleges, according to the American Association of Community Colleges. Compare that to $9,970 for public in-state colleges, and you can see that community college offers a huge savings.
In a mere two years, your child can save almost $13,000. The money saved can go toward tuition for the next couple of years of school.
Parents often forget how expensive room and board is at college. The average cost for the 2017–18 school year was $10,800 for public four-year in-state schools, according to CollegeBoard. That’s more than $2,000 more than the average cost at a community college.
Your child can do much more than save $2,000 a year, though. He or she also has the option to live at home while attending community college. That way, your kid could save an extra $10,800 a year. That’s money in the bank you can use to pay for the last two years at a four-year university.
Students like to get individualized attention, but that can be close to impossible at a four-year school. Public schools tend to have large classes, so your child might be one of hundreds sitting in a lecture hall. There’s a good chance the instructor won’t even have a clue who your child is. He or she will just be a name among hundreds of names.
Community college classes tend to be much smaller. Classes are often the same size as they were in high school, so your child can ease into the college experience. He or she will get much-needed individualized attention at a community college. Plus, these colleges tend to offer tutors and other options to help kids who need even more attention.
By the time your child transfers to a four-year college, he or she will be ready to handle the coursework without the extra attention. That means your kid will be positioned for success. You want what’s best for your kid, and community college just might be it.
If you’re still trying to save for a four-year college, your child might have to step in and help. That could mean getting a job during the first couple of years of school. Community colleges offer flexible schedules that include lots of night class options. This makes it much easier for your child to work and go to school. That money earned from working can help your kid pay for the last two years at a four-year college.
When your child walks into a four-year college, he or she will meet with an advisor. The first question asked will be, “What’s your major?”
That’s an incredibly difficult decision for an 18-year-old to make. It’s hard to decide what you want to do for the rest of your life when you just finished high school.
If your child changes the major after a year or two, he or she might have to spend more time in school. That means even more money on tuition.
Attending a community college gives your child the time needed to explore options. He or she will get the general requirements out of the way during community college and then can choose the major. Think about how much easier it will be for your kid to choose a major at 20 as opposed to 18. It’s not just the age, either. After completing the general requirements, your child will also have a better idea of what he or she likes and doesn’t like at the college level.
Your child will get a taste of college at a community college. Many have student groups and offer activities. Then, of course, your child will attend lots of classes. This taste of college life will make it easier for your child to decide on a four-year school. Instead of just choosing a school where his or her friends are going, your child will look at the various opportunities available at the school. It’s easy to make an informed decision on a school when you have time to evaluate your specific wants and needs.
Don’t let the stigma of community college hold your child back. These colleges have changed a lot over the years, and they provide many benefits that you can’t get at a four-year institution. Plus, once your child completes the two-year program, he or she can transfer to a four-year college. Talk to your kid about the possibility of going to a community college and explain the benefits. This could be the best option for your family.
I'm a personal finance geek. A real estate investor. An accountant, a single mother. And I'm going to get my kids through college without student debt! Will you?