Community college: a place to start

Friday, May 6, 2016
6

By Alicia Stearn 

While attending DCCC in my first semester, I received two of the worst insults: “Community college isn’t a real college” and “community college is really easy.”

What those critics don’t know is that there are many more advantages to starting at a community college then most people realize.

First of all, tuition is cheaper. At DCCC, for example, if you take five classes a semester for two years it will cost about $16,000 (not including fees). Just in tuition, earning an associate’s degree at Penn State University will cost about $33,000 (not including fees). Temple’s tuition for an associate’s degree is roughly $29,000.

Second, you get to learn time management you become responsible for getting to class by driving or taking the bus, much like in the real world. You aren’t living within a 20 minute walking distance from everything.

As a case in point, I’ve had to attend classes at different campuses for my second year at DCCC. One campus was just 10 minutes from my house while the other was almost an hour away.

More community college students also work, so they have to be more responsible with multitasking. According to the American Association of Community Colleges, 62 percent of full- time students work a full-time or part- time job.

In fact, you can keep the same job you had in high school. Instead of trying to work on campus you have the ability todrivefurtherandworkatmoreplaces. Also you still have the opportunity for a work-study job on campus.

My sophomore year of high school I started working at a local grocery store and have been able to keep the job ever since. Being there for so long I’ve achieved seniority among my coworkers and created a workable routine for myself.

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Another benefit is that community colleges have dual admissions and transfer agreements with four year colleges so students have that time to

figure out where they want to go and what they want to major in without spending a ton of money.

The agreement has to be signed before the completion of 30 college credits and this guarantees admission to the four year university of your choice if you complete your associate’s degree with DCCC and maintain a minimum GPA required by the university.

I have signed the dual admissions agreement with Temple University and am eligible for renewable scholarships from DCCC to Temple. With Temple’s transfer agreement if your GPA is within a certain range you are eligible for a certain amount of scholarship money.

“It’s good if you are unsure of what you want [to major in],” said Erika Bair from the transfer office. “We have partnerships and signed agreements so students aren’t totally in debt when they go to a four year school.”

The flexibility of changing classes and discovering which major fits appropriately is another benefit of community college.

“If I went to a university first, I would have no idea where to start,” said Sequista Wilson, a health studies major at DCCC. “You get there and they make you stick to a major.”

There is also more opportunity for switching classes to switch to a different major.

Another advantage is when you transfer to a four year institution with an associates degree, you already have that degree to help you get jobs and start working with a status higher than just a “current college student,” Suni Blackwell explained in a branding workshop he hosted at DCCC’s Marple campus on March 29.

Getting involved on campus makes the transition to a four year institution easier because you already have experience with clubs, possibly even in a leadership role. Community college is smaller so when you get involved in organizations you are able to participate more.

I am a member of Student Government Association at the Pennock’s Bridge campus and there’s more opportunity for everyone to express their thoughts and ideas. When you go off to a university you are able to take the skills from being an active member and apply them in a new setting or bigger group.

And lastly, you’re not homesick. Instead of being sick from being away from home, you get sick from being AT home.

At first it was great. I lived with my mom and I only had to worry about keeping my bedroom clean. I saved moneyfromnothavingtopayrenttolive in an apartment or dorm.

However, we all reach a point where we are ready to get out of the house and take the responsibility off of our parents’ hands.

The closer I got to my second semester the more I wanted my own space and have become more ready to move out.

For all of these reasons, community colleges offer many benefits that can’t compare to what universities have to offer.

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