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Why a Community College Can be a Great Choice

By Daniel Z. Kane

Lots of students think the single major difference between a community college and four year college is the time it takes to earn a degree. In fact, there are numerous, significant differences.

Community colleges, in fact, were created to be different than four year colleges so they could meet the educational needs of students who had traditionally been unlikely to attend a four year college or university. And, their creation (along with the growth of online education) did what it was intended to to; increase the number of students enrolled in higher education.

Because of their modest cost, community colleges attract both large numbers of adults and first generation college students of traditional age. At most community colleges, the average age of enrolled students is between 23-27. And, generally, community colleges enroll a significantly higher percentage of minority students than do four-year colleges.

Cost, however, is not the only reason that community colleges are growing. Because the process of applying to community colleges is streamilined...test scores, completion of prescribed coursework, and references are seldom required...and because community colleges quickly admit all high school graduates, students are not intimidated by the process.

And, community colleges rarely have an application deadline. In most instances, students can apply and be admitted the same week a semester begins.

Generally, community colleges admit all applicants. But, before beginning in some degree programs, it may be necessary to complete courses in prescribed subject areas or otherwise demonstrate program-related proficiency.

While traditional four year colleges frequently offer courses in the evening and/or on Saturdays, community colleges are far more likely to offer enough such courses for an adult to complete an entire degree program. Unless a student enrolls in a distance education program, community colleges offer the most convenient option in higher education.

Another value of community colleges is their ability to offer vocationally related courses or programs for students who seek training but may not wish to complete a degree program. In fact, although many people think of community colleges as the first stop on a journey to earn a bachelors degree, only about 25% of community college students subsequently enroll in a four-year college or university.

A community college can be a great choice for a student who has been away from academics for a long time, a student whose high school curriculum may not have been designed to prepare him/her for college, a working adult, or a student who requires higher education but may not be ready to commit to four years of college.

Daniel Z. Kane is a university dean who has also worked in a community college. If you are considering an online college or online education, you'll find his websites very helpful.

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