There seems to be a common myth about starting off at a community college. The myth is if you attend a community college after high school, you are not a good student, or you are not intelligent enough to directly transfer to a university of your choice. This is not true in any sense. I have worked with many bright and motivated students at the community college level who have succeeded above and beyond their own limits. There are several benefits to attending a community college after high school.
The first benefit of transferring to a community college after graduating high school is COST effectiveness. The tuition at community colleges is significantly lower than CSU, UC and private universities. Students also have the option of applying for the Board of Governors Fee Waiver (BOG) which pays for coursework (units) taken at the community college level. The BOG is state funded and waives the $46.00 per unit fee. A university tuition comparison sheet is attached to this article for further reference regarding the cost of college.
The second benefit is that students fresh out of high school are still finding out their likes and dislikes and exploring all of their possibilities of choosing the right major and career path. During this time of personal and educational exploration, students can focus on taking their transfer lower division (freshman and sophomore year) general education courses as well as major preparation courses. Community colleges offer three types of educational programs, certificates, associate degrees, and transfer articulations. Students can obtain vocational certificates, which are a series of specialized courses, related to an occupational skill for immediate employment, such as Welding or Medical Front Office Administration. Students can pursue a two year Associate of Arts or an Associate of Science degree such as Accounting, Nursing, or Administration of Justice. In addition to earning an associate degree, a student can simultaneously prepare to transfer to a four year university. In any case, typically an associate degree is not required to transfer. However, student athletes are required to complete an associate degree if they want to compete at the university level. Each student’s experience is unique and would require a different plan of action.
The third benefit is that students who graduate from high school may not be ready to experience the university life style immediately; therefore, they have the time to transition at a slower pace and receive further guidance during their first two years of college. In addition, students with low grade point averages and low SAT scores have the opportunity to boost their academic profile and confidently pursue their academic goals.
The fourth benefit is the higher transfer rates from community colleges to competitive and reputable universities compared to the rates of students who directly attend a university after high school. For example, community college students’ have the option of enrolling in the Transfer Admission Guarantee (TAG) program, which guarantees admissions to a chosen university. This program is limited to seven UC campuses and two Cal State campuses, which maintain strict guidelines of student eligibility as a guarantee to attend a specific university. The TAG program is not offered to students who are interested in transferring to UCLA or to private universities such as the University of Southern California, Woodbury University, or Occidental College. If students are interested to transfer to UCLA they have the option of enrolling in the Scholars program at their local community college to enhance their chances for priority admission. The Scholars program is an enriched and rigorous academic program, limited to 25 scholars within the classroom, which encompasses a learning community of students who are required to complete several honors classes. Students can enroll in the Scholars program straight out of high school or after their first college semester. Prior to applying, students must demonstrate a cumulative grade point average of 3.25 and above, obtain a letter of recommendation from their high school counselor or college instructor/counselor, and be eligible for English composition and Intermediate Algebra.
Therefore students should not shy away from considering community colleges as a possible option after high school, along with applying to universities whether in or out of state or international universities and colleges. Each student must proactively explore all of their choices taking into account personality, major, and environment.
Key Guidance by Edith Azizian, M.S., Counseling