By Acaila Eastman
Imagine you are sitting in your tiny little dorm room, littered to the brim with dirty clothes and textbooks you have yet to pick up. You’re struggling to decide on whether or not you should eat the two month old ramen hiding in your cabinet, or spend money you don’t have on the cheapest take-out you could find. You wonder if attending this university for four years was worth the financial burden, one that you have to deal with alone, away from friends and family.
Although being able to attend a four year college right after high school sounds like the ideal situation, here are a few reasons why community college before that big step is the better option.
For one, four year colleges and universities are expensive. The average in-state student attending a four year institution spends $25,707 per year, according to the Education Data Initiative. Tuition, room and board, food, books, and other life essentials add up and drain your bank account pretty fast.
For California community colleges, however, the average tuition is approximately $3,400 per year for in-state students. Without having to stress about how much you’re spending, you’ll also be able to focus better on your studies without those extra worries.
Another benefit of attending a community college would be that a student has the option to stay at home and commute, which also helps students save financially. Although you could possibly stay at home if you attend an in-state university, many of these four-year colleges require you to stay two years on campus in order to adapt to college life, meaning you’d be away from family and have to spend extra money on top of tuition.
“I think that if you didn’t have the best grades or a scholarship to attend a 4-year college and end up having to pay a large amount of money, community college will be more beneficial because it will help you get into a good 4-year college and at a lower cost,” senior Tylaun Riley said.
Along with the financial benefits of attending a community college first, community colleges also have more lenient admissions requirements. So, if you slacked off in high school and weren’t able to meet the requirements for a four year institution, you still have the ability to attend college. Then, after grinding out your two years of community college and increasing your skills as a student, you can transfer to the university that likely wouldn’t have given you the time of day before.
“I feel like going straight to college made me feel rushed to be an adult while also not necessarily knowing all the things that factor into being one,” senior Gracie Smith said. “I think community college is right for some people. Some people have the preference to leave right away and start a new chapter for themselves because they have possibly been given the opportunity of a scholarship.”
Attending college is a big change from high school life. You are forced to be far more independent than you have ever been before, which is a large burden to shoulder, not just financially but also emotionally. If you were to attend a community college, however, you wouldn’t have to worry about all of that emotional turmoil that comes with leaving behind loved ones and having to learn how to live on your own without much help. Community college gives you a two year transition where you can learn these skills at a more leisurely pace.
Overall, community college can be the better option for many people, since most of us are not getting full-ride scholarships. And though attending a four-year institution may be the goal because of societal standards, don’t let that skew your judgment, especially when you know that community could be the better option for you.