As the end of your high school career grows closer, you’ve probably already started thinking about what you are going to do next. If you’ve decided to continue your education, the next big decision is what school to attend, or more importantly, what kind of school to attend.
For many students, a four-year degree at a public or private college seems like the only option. But that simply isn’t true. Community college is another way to continue your education. Attending a two-year college has its benefits and setbacks, and it’s important to take this into account when contemplating your educational future.
Before you start taking out the student loans for a four-year program, here are three situations to consider, where community college or trade school may be the right choice for you:
- You know what you want to do. If you’re interested in a field of work that requires specific technical training, rather than a four-year-degree, then racking up four years worth of school loans is completely unnecessary. If you can see yourself enjoying work as an ultrasound technician or a dental hygienist for the long haul, by all means, enroll in the program that will make that happen.
- You have no idea what you want to do. Some students find that it’s easy to explore different options and figure out where their interests lie at a community college. This may be due largely to the fact that community college is much cheaper than a four-year college. Taking a few extra classes to explore different fields of interest at community college will cost significantly less than if you do it at a four-year college, where superfluous classes may result in an extra semester or year of study before graduation.
- You need to work or focus on family obligations while you attend school. Community colleges are far more flexible in terms of scheduling than four-year colleges. You can take courses in the evenings, on the weekends, on even online. The work load is typically lighter at a community college, as well, so you will have more time outside of school.
Still not sure? Here are a few more things to consider about community college:
- Community colleges have little to no on-campus activities.
- You are generally responsible for your own housing and dining when attending a community college.
- You may start earning money sooner than if you attended a four-year college, but in general, bachelor’s-degree holders make more money throughout their lifetimes.
- You can take your prerequisites at community college and transfer them to a four-year college. This is helpful for students with poor grades in high school or students wishing to save money on school loans.
- Community college is much cheaper than a public or private four-year college.
- Class sizes are generally small at a community college.
For some, community college makes the most sense. For others, a four-year degree is a must. It really depends on your career goals in life and how you want to get there.
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