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3 Community College Tips: An Inexpensive Start on a Bachelor’s Degree

By Diana Simeon

Not every student is ready to head off to a traditional four-year college just a couple months after graduating from high school.

And that’s okay.

In fact, for a growing number of high school graduates, a year or two of community college is a great way to get started on a bachelor’s degree, while reaping the benefits of living at or close to home. After attending a junior college—which is also much less expensive than a traditional college—a student can transfer to a four-year college or what’s called a senior college (basically, a college that offers a junior and senior year) to complete his or her bachelor’s degree.

But, says Thalia Thompson, an advisor at Norwalk Community College in Connecticut (and founder College Admissions Coaching), there are a couple of caveats for students taking this route. Here are her top three tips.

Community College Tips

1. Be cautious about your major.

“You want to choose you major very carefully. I often recommend liberal arts and sciences as a major. Half of bachelor’s degrees will be liberal arts and sciences anyway. If you have a 120-credit bachelor’s degree, roughly 60 or even up to 70 credits will be liberal arts and science in nature. So, it’s best to take those at the 2-year college,” she explains.

2. Get great grades.

“The other thing is you’ve got to do well in the community college courses. You can’t have a 2.0 grade point average and expect to transfer to a four-year college easily,” Thompson adds.

3. Be involved. 

In addition to working hard at the academics, consider joining a club or other activities at your community college. These can help your application to a bachelor’s-degree granting institution when the time comes.

Other Community College Programs

Meanwhile, community colleges are also a place to earn an associate’s degree or complete a certificate program, which train students for work in a specific industry. “There are an awful lot of good programs that student can do in a couple of years, while also working in that industry in an internship,” notes P. Carol Jones, author of Toward College Success: Is Your Teenager Ready, Willing, and Able?. “For example, our community college has a two-year certificate in welding. Apparently, there is a huge shortage of welders. These students have a job starting at $19 an hour before they even finish. And, that’s just one example.”

Diana Simeon

Diana Simeon is an editorial consultant for Your Teen.