5 Reasons to Consider Going to a Community College First

Picture by Megan Lord.

As I was in my senior year of high school, people began asking that question I’m sure we have all heard: “So, what are you going to do after you graduate?” If you are like me, the question was annoying and rather nosey. I’ve got senior prom to worry about, I don’t want to think about adult stuff yet.


The months went by and soon enough, the school’s College and Career Advisor came to my Academy class to talk about applying for colleges and scholarships. If you’re unfamiliar with Wyoming, I hail from Rock Springs, a town about 204 miles west of Laramie in the other corner of the state. Rock Springs is privileged enough to have one out of the seven community colleges in the state, Western Wyoming Community College. Not only is it cheap for residents (full-time tuition and fees $3,032), but in 2017, it was ranked as #3 in the United States for Online Learning in community colleges and #17 against universities and community colleges.

I did what the rest of the kids did in class and applied for Western, even though I was already in two English courses there.


Yes, I decided to go to Western for my first two years. I took 4 full-time semesters, each with 16 credits or more and even two summer classes. I graduated last spring with my Associate of Arts and I loved my experience there. So, here are my reasons as to why I believe more students should choose a community college before spending unnecessary money on a university.


1. You get the chance to live in better dorms

Now, I am unsure about how the dorms look in other state community colleges, but we were spoiled at Western. The “worst” option was living in a dorm with four other people, but you only shared a room with one other person. In that dorm, you had a fully functional kitchen, some furniture and a bathroom to the four of you. That’s right, NO COMMUNAL BATHROOMS/SHOWERS! The “best” option was living in a dorm with one other person, a kitchenette, and a bathroom. The laundry rooms in each building had either 4-6 washers and dryers. Also, the maximum you have to pay for a private apartment suite is $1,907 each semester!


I don’t wanna be a drag, but let’s compare that to the University of Wyoming. Fortunately, I live in a house off-campus, where I pay way less in rent than I ever would in the dorms or in the campus apartments. The least you would pay for the dorm each semester would be $2,246.50, and that doesn’t even include board charges or meal plans! They only include the two beds for you and your roommate, a sink, desks, one closet each and that is it.


2. The Amount of Money You Could Save is Amazing

I know I talked about it above when I was sharing my experience, but let’s talk numbers again. If you attended Western as a resident, full time student (12 credits or more), lived on campus in an average room, had a 10-meals-a-week plan and spent a good chunk on books and supplies, your overall cost annually would be $10,204. And if you are there for two years, that adds up to $20,408. Granted, that does not include summer classes or travel expenses for going home or doing practicum/clinicals, but that’s a lot of money.

Again, let’s compare that to the University of Wyoming. If you attended UW as a resident, full time students (12 credits or more), lived on campus, had a 12-meals-a-week plan and bought books, it would cost you $15,186 each year! Let’s do some math. If you are there for four years, only spend freshman year in the dorms, live in an apartment/house for $400 a month, $50 combined utilities each month, your cost after you graduate would be approximately $40,713! It is so worth doing your first two years at a community college.


3. Your class size will be smaller and professors can help more

Obviously, a community college is going to have smaller classes. Your general/survey courses won’t be in an auditorium with 150 students. Rather, it’ll be a larger classroom with about 25 student starting out. Listen, I am not getting numbers for this one, but I am speaking from personal experience. Also, if a professor has less students and less courses to teach, they have more time to help struggling students.


4. You have a greater sense of community and still meet people from all over the world

I met so many great friends in my two years at Western, and a lot of them were from places I never imagined I would meet people from. I knew a girl who came from Amsterdam, and we often ate in the dining hall with all of our friends. We also had a lot of students from Africa, China and Japan. Most of them came because of the low tuition for even out-of-state students. I felt incredibly close with the people I met, as the campus wasn’t that big and events were published all over the school and in emails. The university also has events, but for some reason, I don’t feel as interested in going to them. I need to meet more people.


5. The professors at a C.C. prepare you well for university

I never realized how hard I tried for grades when I was at Western. My nose was always in a book, making sure I got excellent grades. My favorite professors were some of the most difficult ones I have had, but with their guidance and mentorship, I feel more than ready at the university. I even got more feedback than I ever expected, so that way, my work would improve. In some of my classes, I don’t feel like I am challenged enough. The professors seem to take whatever work is turned in and then assign a grade just for doing it. There are a few that I know actually evaluate and analyze work, but others just don’t seem to care.


Overall, I believe more students should attend community colleges. Not only does it save a lot of money, (that college kids don’t have) but it also prepares you better when you do decide to go to a university. Also, having that extra Associate’s Degree looks pretty cool too. Now get out there and learn!

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