More students opting for first two years at community college

Michaelyn Hoeres is unsure what she wants to study in college. 

The Bethlehem, Pennsylvania 18-year-old, who graduated from Freedom High School in June, worried about paying thousands of dollars per credit for general education requirements.

So, she’s spending her first two years of higher education not on a sprawling University campus, but instead at Northampton Community College.

“I knew I could knock out many of my gen ed requirements and save money while at a community college,” Hoeres said. “It puts less pressure on my parents.”

Michaelyn Hoeres posing for her senior pictures. By Kevin Volpe

Hoeres is among an estimated 9.8 million undergraduates enrolling in a community college for the 2017-2018 school year, according to Teachers College, Columbia University.

The total cost of a four-year degree can be drastically reduced by spending the first two years at a community college.

The average cost of one year of private, four-year University is $35,074, according to Best Value Schools. According to College Board assuming you complete two years of required classes at a community college, you will save $12,000 to $66,000 compared to the same education given at a state or private school.

No matter which college someone attends or what your ideal major is, the first two years generally are comprised general education classes. Many students won’t get into courses that fulfill their majors until junior year. 

Even with two years at community college, students who transfer their junior year to a more traditional campus earn a diploma with that school’s name on it.

Every first-year student is required to take core classes such as English 101, math, and science class in order to fulfill needed credits for graduation. There’s little difference in content between those classes from school to school, so some interviewed this week find it more economical to take them at community college.

The main reason behind attending a community college comes down to cost. Being able to earn a degree at the fraction of the price is a desirable want for many young individuals. 

Students are better financially prepared for the costs of a four year university should they plan on transferring.

Hoeres is looking forward to getting started. Even though she admits, she knows she’s missing out on some aspects of a four-year college.

“I am excited to be beginning a new part of my life but it does hurt watching most of my friends leave to go hours away to Universities,” Hoeres said.