The Value of Community College
Lately, there has been a disheartening increase in the number of comments disparaging community colleges at Green Hope. We’ve all heard them — the jokes that make it seem like community college is a last resort, or something for people who aren’t “good enough” for other schools in the area.
This is simply not true. Community colleges have long been an undervalued resource, both in terms of cost and opportunity.
Tuition for East Carolina University ($22,000 a year per year), UNC Chapel Hill ($24,630 per year), or NC State University ($23,039 per year) is ten times more than the $2,768 it costs per year to attend Wake Tech Community College. Many students who attend community colleges are prepared for other state or private universities, and choose to attend because of the cost. The price point is incredibly reasonable and makes a higher education available to many people who couldn’t afford it otherwise. The low cost is a great option for anyone unsure of what they want to do, and unsure if the hefty cost of a bigger university is worth it.
There are plenty of opportunities available to community college students, and the flexible academic schedule allows them to pursue a career or support a family simultaneously. Certifications in anything from Medical Laboratory Technology to Cosmetology to Automotive Systems Technology are available at Wake Tech.
Additionally, many community colleges have a “pipeline” system that guarantees successful students acceptance into a university after two years of study (for example, successful Wake Tech students are guaranteed transfer into one of the UNC system schools after two years). Most community colleges have valuable career counseling services as well. Durham Tech offers individualized counseling, workshops, and resources to its students and alumni. Career Services offers individualized counseling, workshops, interest inventories, and career resources to Durham Tech students and alumni.
Community colleges are a wonderful option for students of any age who want to pursue higher education without the debilitating price, without the pressure of a larger university, and with more time to figure out what they want from a career. High school students who don’t feel prepared for or don’t want the larger university experience can continue to grow, learn, and become professionals there.
The recognition of the cost-benefit analysis of a community college education is demonstrative of an intelligent, informed student. It’s time to start seeing and discussing North Carolina’s community colleges as the viable resource they are, instead of a punchline.