Community colleges were developed, and still exist, for two major purposes. The first is to serve as a bridge from high school to college by providing courses for transfer toward a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) or Bachelor of Science degree (B.S.). Four out of 10 college-bound high-school graduates start their college education this way.
The second function of community colleges is to prepare students for the job market by offering entry-level career training, as well as courses for adult students who want to upgrade their skills for workforce re-entry or advancement.
Community colleges cost significantly less (particularly for state residents) than state or private colleges and universities. This means that they can be a cost-effective way for your child to complete the first two years of college. The money saved by living at home and going to a local community college can help pay for the last two years at a four-year college or university.
Maybe your child would like to begin by aiming for a two-year associate's degree and decide later whether he'd like to pursue a bachelor's degree. Taking classes toward an Associate of Arts (A.A.) degree, for example, would give him a feel for the type of education he would get at a liberal arts college.
Many people enter college without a clear idea of what they want to focus on. At a community college, your child can explore different subject areas before committing to a program, without having to be so concerned about his finances. To assist with the career decision-making process, many community colleges offer intensive guidance counseling that can help your child assess his abilities, interests, and educational options. Plus, your child may actually be able to take a wider array of courses (including both liberal arts and career-oriented) than at a four-year institution, making it easier to check out many different options in one place.
Whereas many four-year colleges and universities have selection criteria for attendance, such as a minimum required GPA, community colleges are open to everyone. If your child wants to pursue college-level coursework but isn't academically ready, community colleges offer classes and one-on-one tutoring to help students strengthen their basic skills. Keep in mind that the average class size at most community colleges is significantly smaller than at public four-year universities.
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