By Charlotte Klaar

The traditional image of the college experience features freshmen showing up for orientation in August and that same group of students graduating together four years later. Most students would prefer to do college this way because of the simplicity of remaining in one school and the comfort of sharing the adventure with the same set of friends. But preferences aside, there are compelling reasons for you to consider earning an Associate’s degree from a community college and then transferring to a four-year college for your Bachelor’s degree.

Update on Community Colleges

Community colleges are no longer viewed as a last resort for those who didn’t get into a four-year school. Whether you’re looking for a less expensive alternative, a better learning environment, an opportunity to explore different subjects, or a school that’s within commuting distance, students who attend community colleges realize many benefits.

Community colleges are public institutions operated by a county or city.According to the American Association of Community Colleges, over 13 million students, or nearly half of all undergraduates in the U.S.,attend a community college. There are more than 1,700 community colleges granting Associate’s degrees.

In the past, community colleges were considered to be less academically rigorous than four-year colleges. But much has changed in academia due to the many external factors that bear upon it.Academic standards at community colleges have improved, as have the credentials of faculty.Most community colleges now require that faculty have a Master’s degree and, more often, a PhD. in their field.

Community colleges don’t receive research grants, the lifeblood of research universities. In universities, professors are hired mainly for their qualifications to conduct advanced research, so the time that they have available for teaching is limited. This results in large class sizes for entry-level courses and instructors who often are only graduate students. At community colleges, the sole focus of professors is teaching. Because classes are small, teachers provide students with more personal attention and can adopt more innovative teaching techniques.

Community College Students Should Recognize Their Value

Many high-achieving community college students assume that they won’t be accepted as transfers to selective four-year institutions, so they don’t even apply.In fact, transfers from community colleges comprise 7% of the upperclassmen in the 100 most selective colleges in the country, according to a report by the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation, and this percentage is growing.

To encourage more applicants from community colleges,many four-year schools now actively seek them out.College administrators welcome them for adding diversity to the student body,enhancing campus culture, and replacing students who dropped out in their first two years.These motives are supplemented by data showing that community college students who transfer to four-year institutions graduate at a higher rate than incoming freshmen or transfers from four-year colleges.And the students admitted aren’t just a few superstars. In a recent year, 84% of the nation’s community colleges transferred at least one graduate to the 100 most selective four-year institutions, according to the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation.

 Check in next week to find out why you should go to community college first.


Dr. Charlotte Klaar is Director of Klaar College Consulting LLC and a trained facilitator for the Parenting with Love and Logic program. She has successfully counseled college-bound students for more than 26 years both in-person and virtually.