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May 28, 2011

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My father in law was a college councilor at the community college. The biggest problem was students taking classes that did not transfer. This biggest problem there was the student did not listen to him and took the class anyway and wondered why it did not transfer.

Great post. Actually many community colleges have advanced programs. For example where I teach we have a Rouse's Scholar program where students are guided through top level courses and get a lot of individualized attention. These students get accepted at some of the top schools in the nation.
The school is "writing intensive" meaning that a class paper is required for almost every class.
I attended community college for 2 years before transferring to the University of Maryland. I felt I was much better prepared than the 4 year students.
For the serious student who wants to get an education without a huge student loan bill community college is the way to start IMHO.

For a fiscally responsible college degree, this is the only way to fly IMHO. As you and Matt mentioned, the most critical element is ensuring the whole AA degree transfers to the 4-year college. This can best be done by attending a community college in the same state as the college you want to transfer to, and by working closely with good counselors.

We have friends whose son did this. He loved the CC because he was able to play soccer there. However it is taking him an three years at the state university to complete his degree because of issues involving starting at the CC. Because he has lived at home the whole time it is not overly expensive but it is not according to the original plan.

I attended a CC for 2 years before transferring to a 4 year university and getting 3 bachelor’s degrees. The cost savings were enormous. I am 26 and now have a 6 figure job – so I would dismiss any notion that you are giving your child less of an education or something… I will mention that you MUST manage the classes you are taking to ensure they transfer to the 4 year university. Most of the CCs I have visited (in person or online) have a list of classes that will transfer BUT: this is not a set-it-and-forget-it process – the classes may transfer one year but not the next (I had this happen). Also advisors at the CC are often times WRONG about what classes do transfer – you MUST go to the 4 year university and make sure that you will get credit for them (have the advisor sign a piece of paper saying that it will transfer – heck I used to bring an audio recorder with me LOL!). That way if that advisor leaves or the rules change you can hold them to the “grandfathered” agreement (I literally did this and it was so sweet and satisfying!).

Attending the CC for the first 2 years easily saved me (my parents couldn’t afford to help with college) around 30K. The first year I had to take out student loans was the first year I went to the 4 year university. I just paid those loans off (50K) this last Friday. WOOHOO!!! I’M DEBT FREE!!! :-)

One warning I forgot to tell is that CC are now feeling the flood of students. There are so many people out of work and attending CC that the once 25 student classes are now growing to HUGE and not having enough qualified prefessors to teach them all. So you need to see who is teaching the class and their qualifications.

Plus the caliber of student is changing in that there are people who are attending my local CC Oakland Community College (OCC) and it is developing the stigma of having people called Only Chance College. Meaning that they lack the skill set that they should have learned in high school and will not progress beyond the CC level.

Don't get discouraged but be paitent with the OCC's

3 years ago my husband graduated and got a job. It was a rough process because of community college. My husband went to community college first and then transferred to a great 4 year. We started taking his graduation from community college off his resume. The majority of employers who interviewed him told him straight out that he was a lesser candidate since he hadn't gone straight to a 4 year even though his grades at the university were as good or better than other candidates.

Before trumpeting the virtues of community college just be aware that there is a strong bias against it from many recruiters.

Marie - that is a good point I forgot to mention. I do NOT (never have) put the CC on my resume. Actually there really never was a need to in the first place because once you have a 4 year degree nobody cares that you had a 2 year degree (or took classes from a CC)...

I took classes at a CC during the summer semesters then transferred the credits to my 4 year college. I also transferred from one 4 year college to another. The best piece of advice I can give is to get their course manuals and registration policies, read and understand them. They are normally free at the university or are online. Many students never do this and are completely lost. Not only will this information tell you how to transfer credits, but also how to go about dropping and adding classes correctly among other things. No school does things the same way and classmates who thought they dropped a class would find in the end that they 1)paid for the course in its entirety and 2) received an F. The course manuals will pretty much tell you everything an advisor knows like what classes are needed to get a certain degree.

I spent a year at a community college before transferring to a regular university (I started in physics and calculus, and so I ran out of classes to take). The credits transferred, but they were a little out of order, so I had to do 4 years at the university anyway, and the general education courses I took didn't contribute to my GPA, where they could have provided nice padding against my much more difficult science classes. All in all, it was a waste of time and money.

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