Local community college: these three little words evoke personalized experience, support, and learning. Yet it’s a common mistake to assume that these centers of learning are in some way inferior to four-year colleges. Some people think, for instance, that community college courses are easier, that they offer limited prospects, and that it’s difficult to transfer from a community college to university. As we will see, these myths could not be further from the truth.
In reality, local community colleges provide an open gateway to personal development and career growth, empowering people from all walks of life to skill up and seize new opportunities.
Here are 10 amazing benefits of attending a local community college.
#1 Fit Learning into Your Life
Work, family, travel – many of us need the flexibility to fit our learning around the many other demands on our time. Local community colleges empower you to do that with a range of programs from short, targeted learning to longer courses covering multiple modules. Courses are often offered through evening and online classes, making it as easy as possible to get your work-school-life balance right.
Attending community college is a good way to make sure life doesn’t get in the way of learning. For instance, attending community colleges in Oregon and California allowed best-selling author Amy Tan to continue her education despite relocating, building a foundation for future career and academic success.
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At a local community college, education need not cost the earth. Financial aid is available for many courses, and many employers will contribute toward the cost of courses that add vital skills for their workforce. Colleges also offer courses for every budget, including many that cost less than $50 and even some that are free. Add to that the opportunity to study close to home and to fit your learning in with your job, and many of the financial strains commonly associated with college education simply disappear.
Attending community college provided a cost-effective route for Apple Computers co-founder Steve Wozniak. At the age of 19 he broke off his university education to spend a year living with his parents while developing his skills at De Anza Community College in California.
#3 Career-Boosting Courses
Employers are crying out for highly skilled workers in areas like science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) alongside ‘soft’ skills like creative thinking, time management, and teamwork. Local community colleges excel in these and other areas of professional certification. Even better, they tend to keep their finger on the pulse so they can quickly develop new courses for the skills local employers want now.
In fact, the skills you develop at community college often provide a springboard to much greater success. Look at Ross Perot Senior – he studied for two years at Texarkana Junior College before being accepted for the US Naval Academy and eventually becoming a billionaire IT businessman, philanthropist, and two-time presidential candidate.
#4 Make a Fresh Start
Whether you didn’t do so well at school or you’re looking for a change of career, a local community college is full of opportunities to make a fresh start. You may want to try a new direction with a short course, gain important qualifications you missed first time round, or embark on a learning journey with a long-term goal in sight. Community colleges specialize in supporting your journey and helping you take your learning to the next level.
#5 Support for Your Learning Style
People learn best in different ways – for example through reading, listening, watching, or doing. Because community colleges are set up to empower a wide variety of learners, they are adept at discovering and supporting individual learning styles. Want to enroll full time? No problem. Want to just take one class? Not a problem, either.
In addition, community college courses often have smaller class sizes than you’ll find at school or university, so they can provide personalized attention to enable each student.
If you want to find the perfect course for your learning style look into enrolling in a course in Unmudl's coast-to-coast network of leading community colleges. You can earn credits and certifications while being a part of the diverse, job-ready talent that employers are looking for!
#6 A Local Learning Community
Local community colleges provide a great opportunity to learn alongside students of all ages, backgrounds, and experience. Connecting with fellow learners who share the same interests and learning goals can enrich the college experience as well as provide valuable support.
That’s why community colleges place huge focus on creating a sense of togetherness among students who might live off-campus, learn online, or need to fit class attendance around other home and work commitments.
As well as on-campus activities, for example, many groups use virtual workspaces to work on projects, while videoconferencing apps bring classes together for discussions.
In addition, dedicated online spaces provide a place where students can socialize, support each other, and arrange to meetup at convenient times. By combining on-campus activities with technology, colleges are making sure that every learner is part of a vibrant student community.
#7 Expanding Horizons
Even though community colleges have a local flavor, they can also expand your geographical horizons. Many courses are offered online so you can learn at home, making every community college a local one. And increasingly, in-college courses include remote tutorials using video conferencing apps that enable the learning to land where the student needs it.
These virtual tools have proved their worth in helping people to continue their development during the pandemic, and the benefits they bring to the learning experience are here to stay.
#8 Higher Education – At Your Own Pace
If your sights are set on university but you are not yet able to commit to a four-year college course, community college can build a valuable bridge for you. Many courses earn you transferrable credits that will count towards a university degree or professional certification. This means you can start your learning now, move at your own pace, and enroll at a university when you are ready – taking along study credits to give you a head start.
Academy Award winning actor and director Tom Hanks is among the global names who transferred from community college to university. In fact, Hanks credits Chabot Community College in California as the turning point in his life, saying: “Over the course of my career, I’ve only continued to reap the benefits of the classes I took there.”
#9 Building a Bridge to Work and College
Whether your next step is work or university, attending community college can prepare you for the experiences ahead. Many employers offer internships to community college students and some college courses to provide real-world experience in much-needed skills, with links to prospective employers. If university is your ultimate goal, you can get a flavor of dorm life by attending a community college that offers on-campus accommodation.
#10 Life-Long Learning Opportunities
Accessibility is at the heart of community college education. This means that wherever your journey begins, it never needs to end. It doesn’t matter how many degrees you have or where you are in your career path. By attending a local community college, you can continue to develop skills, discover new interests, and explore expanding horizons no matter your age or position in life.
Set Yourself Up for Success
Inclusive, diverse, flexible and affordable: attending a local community college brings a unique set of benefits to help you develop your skills, build your career and create exciting new opportunities. Aligning those benefits to support your goals is the key to your unique learning journey. Here are some tips for setting yourself up for success.
Visualize your reasons for studying – your long-term goals, the life you want to lead, the company you want to work for – and write that down. Writing down your vision, whether it involves a direct career path or a leisurely exploration of something you’re passionate about, will help keep you on track as you move through your studies.
Explore how video content and remote learning opportunities offered by community colleges can work alongside in-person teaching to create a blend that supports your learning needs and school-life balance. There are so many ways to design your day for smart, productive learning alongside your college hours.
For instance, by listening to a podcastor recorded lesson while you exercise or during your daily commute, you can build study into your routine without having to find extra time. It’s a great way to absorb knowledge and think about key issues while meeting your other commitments, and you’ll be amazed at how it can enhance your studies.
Set up the support you need to achieve your goal – explore funding opportunities for your learning, talk to your employer, family and friends about your plans, and link up with study buddies at college to help you get there. If the going gets tough, look again at that vision you wrote down to remind yourself how far you have come and just what you can achieve.
Local community colleges bring together many benefits to empower you through your learning and career journey. Having a clear vision of what you want to achieve and the type of support you will need will enable you to find the right college and course that will help you reach your goals.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why is it better to attend community college first?
Community colleges are often less expensive than four-year universities. Students who begin their education in a community college and subsequently transfer to a university will save thousands of dollars while gaining enough preparation for the academic standards of a four-year institution.
Are community colleges more easy?
It's a common misconception that community college classes are "easier".The difficulty of classes depends on your teachers and how much effort you are willing to put in, not by the type of college you are attending.
What services do local community colleges offer?
Community colleges include standard academic courses that will transfer to a four-year college or university, as well as community programs such as Leadership, IT or other skill related courses.