Wednesday, January 15, 2014

How to smartly use the Community College system to reduce the cost of getting a 4 year degree. It is important to choose your classes wisely

Unless you are rich, a star athlete, or your parents were able to fund a 529 educational savings plan, then you are going to be concerned about paying for college.  There are several well established ways to help reduce the cost of going to college, but I would like to discuss one, Community College, that is often recommended but the improper use of them could pose problems for students as they move to their chosen university.

All classes are not created equal.  While there are absolutely some exceptions, core subject classes at 4 year universities are more rigorous than the equivalent class at a Community College.  I know, that is not polite to say, but it is important to acknowledge so correct decisions can be made.

Here is what I suggest to students to economize on the cost of college by taking advantage of the Community College system.  Take the core classes at a local Community College that DO NOT directly pertain to your prospective major. For instance, if you are going to be a math major do not take math classes at a Community College.  Instead take the English, Social Studies or Theater classes that are required of you even if you are a math major.  Take ALL your math classes when you get to your chosen university because, for the most part, they are going to be classes that build upon themselves as you move through the universities math department.  I believe this will ease the transition to the upper level junior and senior level classes.  Not having establishing that solid base by taking the introductory core classes within your major’s department will put you at a disadvantage.

Bottom-line:  Save money by taking classes at a Community College that are not within your chosen major.  Resist the temptation to do otherwise.  I hope you will be thankful for this advice because (1) you reduced the cost of college for yourself and (2) you excelled in your major because you took the right classes at the right time.

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