Is Community College for You?
A community college is a public higher education institution that, in most cases, offers two-year diploma or associate's degree programs. They are often called junior colleges, because many students – particularly those in liberal arts fields – go on to complete a bachelor's degree at a four-year college.
Programs Available at a Community College
There are three main types of programs which are typically available at a community college: associate's degrees, training certifications and community services.
Associate's degrees can generally be completed within one to two years, and are recognized as the lowest degree level of postsecondary education. Some employers accept associate's degrees as acceptable qualifications for jobs that require some college training but not necessarily a full four-year degree. You can also complete an associate's degree at an online community college if you're not able to fit traditional classes into your schedule, which is a popular option for full-time employees who are interested in community adult education.
Training certifications for professions like computer repair, law enforcement and nursing are also typically available at community colleges. These programs are specifically designed to prepare students to pass standardized or national examinations to achieve professional certifications.
Finally, community service programs are made available to students. These might include adult continuing education classes, GED courses and job placement services.
Paying for a Community College Education
College funding is a challenge for many students. Student loans are always an option, but you should view these as a last resort in case other sources of funding aren't available to you.
Ask the school where you want to apply if they offer a community college scholarship to entry-level students. Failing that, there are national organizations that offer scholarships to students in specific areas of study. You may have to do some legwork to find ones you qualify for, but the effort can pay off, literally.
If you've got money to cover your tuition but aren't sure how you'll meet your day-to-day living expenses while you're in school, community college jobs might be the answer. Many community colleges offer students opportunities to work on campus, and your remuneration might come in the form of an hourly wage, tuition remission or both.