Should your Child Consider Community College

If your teenager is starting their college search, start with your local community college. Learn all the opportunities the school offers before crossing it off your list.  Share with high school students looking to expand their college choices!   Marni Pasch -Academic Coach Team- Pasch Academic Coach  Podcast School Counselor Gone Rogue

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The Case for community College - Episode 025

The Case for Community College

As you select the colleges for your teenager to apply, where does community college fall on the list? If it isn’t on the list at all- I challenge you to take a deeper look. With the rising costs of tuition, community colleges often offer an option to reduce the cost of living and tuition fees at a four year school. If your high school career was shaky, a fresh start at a community college might pave the way for a [previously out of reach state school.

Students have options after they finish high school – many go to 4-year universities, some choose community colleges, and some enter the workforce. This week’s podcast episode is all about attending a community college before transferring to a 4-year university, for those students who are considering college in some form, as an option.

Kids who go to community college are just as prepared if not better prepared to attend a 4-year college than their friends who went straight into a 4-year university straight out of high school. That’s why I’m making a case for community colleges this week on the podcast. If that’s not convincing enough, you and your kiddos can save a little money if you choose this route as well!

The inspiration for this week’s podcast episode came from an article I received in my email, titled “Community College Transfers Outperform High Schoolers at Top Colleges – So Why Do We Ignore Them?”

The article laid out research from the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation that showed community college students who transfer to selective 4-year schools perform as well as (if not better) than their peers who enter college directly from high school.

So why don’t we consider community college as a viable option for an after-school plan?

When I was a struggling student in high school, I felt I had to go straight into college, and that the environment I was in kind of turned up their noses at community college. In retrospect, that was probably exactly what I needed.

I don’t want to say that it’s the best or the worst option for your student. I want to look at it as an alternative, especially if there are concerns about money or a student’s maturity level and readiness for college, or if your kiddo just hasn’t made up their minds.

We talk a lot about a student’s rate of maturity. If your child is a senior who isn’t quite ready to live on their own, or they lack study skills and motivation to carry them through in a university setting, a community college might be an option.

The Benefits of Community College

Community college allows students to explore college environments and collect college credits at a lower cost than if they were to dive straight in. You could save $10,000 or more by taking general education courses at a community college, although this figure really depends on the university you opt into. For students who don’t know if a 4-year school and loans are the right choice, this could save a big chunk of change.

Classes could be smaller, which could mean more 1:1 attention for students who need it, especially if they struggle with learning skills or motivation.

A large university’s intro courses could be easy to sleep through – Maybe that’s not the right environment for some students, but maybe community college is an option for students who want to work to save money and want the availability of night classes. Maybe there’s an opportunity for apprenticeships during the day to ensure that the degree a student chooses is the right fit for them.

Community college is a great opportunity to reinvent yourself too – especially for those who struggled in high school. Take the time to create a new track record – show the admissions office you can handle college-level work; that’s one thing a community college experience can offer those who transfer into a 4-year school later.

Some larger schools will even defer your admission. They may say “If you attend this feeder community college, you should be able to get in here in a year or two.”

Would your child do better if they could explore and create a path instead of plunging directly into a 4-year college and realizing that the major they chose wasn’t right for them?

I encourage you to question what’s holding you back from considering community college as part of your search. 

If you’re holding back because of pride, or because that’s not the path your family members chose, it’s something to consider. Maybe the non-traditional route is better for your child than the way your parents or siblings chose.  Some community colleges even offer scholarships, particularly for first-generation college students. Some have clubs and sports, although they’re not at the same level as 4-year universities.

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    What to Consider Before Adding a Community College to your College Search

    What courses Transfer?

    Don’t dismiss community colleges out of hand, but be sure that you talk with your school counselor or an admissions officer at a community college. They should be able to tell you how the courses you might take could transfer into your chosen 4-year university.

    While this may be an opportunity to improve your transcript and show that you can handle college-level work, not all 4-year schools will take community college credits. It’s important to set up a question and answer session so that you understand these issues. It’ll also help you make sure that the courses you’re taking will align with your life goals and future school goals.

    Community college should be the first college your child researches when they start their college hunt. Bold statement? May-haps. But it’s the only way to ensure it’s not the right fit.  This week on School Counselor Gone Rogue we talk about the community college and research that shows these students are finishing their 4 year degrees like rock stars.  Check out School Counselor Gone Rogue on Itunes,Stitcher or Google Play or check out the website and show notes!

    The Drawbacks

    There are a few drawbacks to community colleges. They’re not going to have all of the classes you’ll ever want to take. Credit transfers may be more difficult from community college to a 4-year school (there’s no guarantee that one state’s community college credits will transfer to a university in another state, for example).

    This is part of why it’s so important to have a plan and talk it out with the people who can help you find your answers.


    In Closing

    The college journey is very personal. I encourage you to look at all your options without making assumptions – you might miss something life-changing if you do. Community college, is not the right fit for everyone.However, the benefits they offer should not be ignored as you weigh your college options.

    Need some help getting the grades to transition to honors next year? Check out my free resource the Test Prep Roadmap at



    Marni Pasch| Host of School Counselor Gone Rogue| Academic Coach | Team Pasch Academic Coaching

    I work with students in grades 6th and higher, who struggle with academic confidence and motivation. I help them survive school with less stress by helping them create concrete goals, tackle procrastination and learn creative study techniques. I empower students to take charge of their education and reach their goals. I do this through individual or group coaching so students achieve success in life, school, career readiness and their social endeavors.