Community College Can Be a Smart Idea for Military Veterans
Convenient and Inexpensive Option for Student Veterans: Community College
There are many different options when it comes to getting a degree. One of those is attending school at a community college. These colleges, which are also sometimes called junior colleges, are a smart choice for a lot of people.
There are many things to consider when choosing where to go to school. Here are some reasons community college or junior college can be the right choice for you.
The Cost of Community College
The cost of community college is a lot more affordable than four-year options. If you plan to transfer to a four-year school after you receive your associate’s degree, you will save a lot of money versus going to only a four-year school.
The average yearly cost of tuition and fees for a community college is $3,440, while a four-year in-state is $9,410, a four-year out-of-state school is $23,890, and a private school is $32,410.
If you spent all four years at a private university, you would pay on average, $129,640 for four years. If you spent the first two years at a community college and then transferred there, it would be $71,700. This is quite the significant savings.
If you aren’t planning to go to a private school and want to attend a four-year school paying in-state tuition, you will pay on average, $37,640. If you did two years at a community college, you would bring that down to $25,700. Quite the savings there too.
Being Accepted to a Community College
Overall, getting into a community college is going to be easier to do than a four-year university. The requirements are less strict to allow almost anyone who wants to go to school there to be able to get in.
If you have a child in high school, going to a community college first can be the best way for them to end up where they want to go, especially if they do not have as high of a GPA as they would need to. If a student can go to a community college first, it will be easier to get into their school of choice after a couple of years when it is time to transfer.
You can check to see if the community college has an articulation agreement with four-year schools you or your child might want to transfer to. This will make transferring that much easier and will help you avoid taking a class that won’t count at the next school. You can also look at what is required at a school you would want to transfer to, even if they don’t have an articulation agreement, and plan your classes based on that.
As a whole, community colleges will have smaller campuses that four-year schools. This makes getting around a lot easier and a lot less overwhelming. This can be a good thing for a young 18-year-old high school graduate or the 30-something going back to school after twenty years.
In addition to a smaller campus, you will also find smaller classes. While the average for a bigger school can be 150-300 students in a class, you would find an average of 25-30 students in a community college class. This also makes getting to know your professor and form a relationship with them.
Military Installation Connection
Often you can attend community college at your military installation. Both family members and service members can attend classes, and this can make going back to school a lot easier.
Depending on your installation, you should be able to take some if not all of your classes there instead of having to go to the school’s campus. For some, this is a difference of 5-10 minutes vs 30 minutes or more to get to class. You can even start your schooling this way, taking general education classes that you will need for transferring later.
You would need to check out the education center on your post or base to get started.
MYCAA is a fantastic program for military spouses. If you qualify, you can get up to $4,000 for school. Going to a community college is one of the best ways to use this benefit. You can use MYCAA for a two-year program or certificate or put it towards your first two years of school while you work on getting your associate’s degree.
Going to an accredited community college would be a better choice over going to a for-profit college. You would be sure to get a good education doing so and know that you would be able to transfer to another school or earn a degree that could help you find a job.
Community colleges have online programs for those who don’t want to go to physical classes or who can’t. There are quite a few options by choosing to go to school online. Depending on the program you choose, you might be able to receive your degree by only taking online classes.
This can help you even more if you do need to PCS during your school years or if you are going to be deployed in the middle of getting your education. While four year schools also offer online classes, community college classes can be more flexible for the non-traditional student.
You Don’t Want to Go to a 4-Year
If you or your child only wants to get a two-year degree, going to a community college is the best option. While after a couple of years you can transfer to a four-year school, you don’t have to if you can go into your choice of career with an associate’s degree.
There are also certificate programs you can do at community colleges. Anything from photography to accounting. There are specific careers out there that need a certificate, and you find many different programs at your local community college.
You Are Not Sure What You Want To Do
Some students don’t know what they want to do at first. Going to a community college can allow a student to take some of the general education classes they will need no matter what their major will end up being. During these classes, a student can figure out what they want to do and can then decide on the best university to transfer to. This means that a student won’t be wasting money at a school that might not be the best choice for them down the road when they figure out what they want to major in.
As you can see, attending a community college, if even just for your first two years can be a smart choice. There are a lot of benefits to doing so for you or your children who are getting ready to go to college. Take the time to research your community college options in your area to see if one would be a good fit.
Find Gi Bill-Approved Community Colleges for Military and Veterans
- Scholarships for Community College Students
- Community Colleges by State
- Tennessee Free Community College for All Adults
- A Community College for Airmen & Women
About the author
Julie Provost is a freelance writer, blogger, and owner of Soldier's Wife, Crazy Life, a support blog for military spouses. She lives in Tennessee with her National Guard husband and three boys.