Updated: Aug 7
By: Omar Monsalvo
Community college tends to be surrounded by a cloud of negative judgment. Many students hesitate to say they will be attending their local community college because of social, family, or even personal pressures. It shouldn’t be this way. I am here to tell you why community college is the smart choice, and how it could be the right choice for you.
As we all know, going to college is expensive. However, going to community college could possibly avoid draining your personal or family savings. For California community colleges, the average tuition cost is about $1,600. Comparing that to the average cost of attending the University of California (UC), which is nearly 10 times cheaper than the UC system; private schools are even worse. Simply acquiring student loan debt is not an option for most, especially since these loans have high-interest rates and students find it difficult to pay off the principal. Community colleges are a wonderful way to avoid amassing debt for your first two years of college, and the educational quality is usually comparable.
You Can Try to Transfer to Your Dream school
I’ve personally been rejected and seen many of my friends get rejected from their dream schools. If you happen to run into this problem, do not worry. Admissions committees at many Universities have so little time to evaluate the thousands of applicants effectively. To put it into perspective, UCLA received about 140 thousand freshmen applicants for Fall 2021 and has only about four months to make their decisions. That leads to very little time to truly get to know each student.
Community college is a second shot at that dream school. For example, I’ve had friends who have taken the community college path, finished their general education and prerequisite courses in two years, and are now at Berkeley despite being denied admissions right out of high school. Another friend decided to go to CC as well and got into her dream school, UCLA. Dream schools are often more feasible through community college than coming out of high school.
Bad Grades and GPA
Okay, maybe you had too much fun in high school and failed a class or received grades not acceptable by respective university standards. Don’t worry! Community college is a second chance. A chance that will erase undesirable grades from the past. You can get into your local community college with your less than stellar grades, and work towards achieving a much higher GPA in college. This will allow schools to see your change as a student and consider you for transfer admission. Colleges will still ask to see your high school transcript, however, they will seriously consider your college transcripts more since they are recent. If you work hard and achieve As and Bs, there is a very high chance that you will still reach your dream school.
Many colleges offer programs for transfer students to aid them during admission. For example, The Transfer Admission Guarantee (TAG) Program is a program that helps guarantee admission of community college students to schools within the UC system. UCs that participate in this program are Davis, Merced, Irvine, Riverside, Santa Barbara, and Santa Cruz. Think of this like playing tag: you tell the school you will meet their requirements, and they come back to you with admission. The specific requirements needed to fulfill that can be found on their website. More about the TAG Program can be found on the University of California Admissions website.
Most importantly, you need to remember that the professors that teach at community colleges are still extremely qualified, the education is just as strong, and there is nothing wrong with choosing that path. Community colleges allow many students opportunities that they cannot get at four-year institutions. It is a respectable option, and—who knows— maybe it’s the right choice for you.
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