Squashing the Stigma on Community Colleges

Ciara Massey, Reporter

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Deciding to go to college is one of the most important decisions a young adult will make in their life. Whether a student continues their education in their home state or far away, they are beginning a new life. Considering  a community college could help make the transition from childhood to adulthood a little easier.

Attending a community college has many benefits, but the biggest is cost effectiveness. The average yearly cost of tuition for Arkansas State University is $8,050, whereas the tuition for Arkansas State University Mid-South is $2,554. Students attending each college would take general courses required of all college freshman. But, the student who attends ASU Mid-South would save $5,496. Also, community college students are still eligible for scholarships and financial aid, reducing the price tag even more.

Another perk of enrolling in a community college is a flexible living situation. MHS alumni Erik Carter graduated in 2018 and went to Washington state to attend the prestigious DigiPen Institute of Technology. Carter enrolled without doing a college tour first and learned a lot, as it was his first time living alone.

“I was thrown into adult stuff that I had never been used to doing before, laundry, living by myself, having to support myself,” Carter said.

These are all things that every young adult has to go through. Why not learn with family close by to help through this experience? While going to a community college, most students live at home. This is very cost effective as it eliminates the room and board fees and students would not have to buy groceries for themselves.

The schedule at a community college is more flexible than it would be at a four-year university. Carter briefly worked while he was in school, but soon found out the coursework was too demanding to make time for outside activities.

“Because of how difficult the school was, you don’t have time for anything,” Carter stated. “You barely have time to just do the assignments, so after I started working in two or three weeks, I had to just quit because, I couldn’t do work and school at the same time.”

Carter ended up coming back to his hometown and is now working and will attend a community college in the fall. But, he has not been discouraged by this tiny bump in the road, and would do it all over again.

“Overall the experience was something that I needed,” he said. “It was a great learning experience and it helped me grow up more. I wouldn’t have gained this experience from staying home and going into the field [aircraft mechanics] I’m going in now.”

It is important that students evaluate their situation and determine which option fits best. With the numbers in student debt rising each year, the benefits of a community college are undeniable. It is important to remember that even though a student starts off with a community college, their credits will follow them anywhere they go. If they decide to go off to a university, they can do so in confidence.