Community College – getting more than what you pay for


Many students accumulate a huge debt burden to attend college. John Guccione/Pexels

KILEY HARRINGTON, staff writer

Since I was a child, it has been instilled in me that I will do well in school, go away to a high ranking college or university, and get a good job. But as application deadlines approach, I as well as other seniors have become more conflicted about what path to take after high school. Why should we attend a private college or university for four years when community college is a viable option?

It is quite obvious that attending a private university or college has its perks. But it might surprise some to learn that community colleges offer some accommodations that private colleges and universities do not.

One major contrast between attending community college and attending a private college or university is that more often than not, students going to community college stay behind in their home town and students going to a private college or university end up traveling across the country to their new school. Some private colleges or universities offer incredible opportunities abroad as well. For example, the University of New England gives students the option to study in France, Iceland, Spain, and even Morocco at no additional cost to tuition. 

Leaving home can help young adults to become more independent, make new friends, and get out of their comfort zone. “After high school I’m most looking forward to the freedom I’ll have without being tied down to my home,” says Nick Melendez, a senior at Canton High School. Some of the schools Nick applied to were Fordham, NYU, UNBC, and Yale. The qualities Nick was most concerned about when applying to college were a sizable campus, off campus attractions, and good medical programs. “Student life is very, very important,” Nick says, “I know that I’m supposed to be paying attention to the classes and the academics but I think that having fun when you’re not studying is important.”

With that being said, not all college students are eager to live in a new environment. Jazmin Franklin, a Senior at Canton High School, is one of these people, “I was terrified of leaving home so quickly and adulting.” For the next two years Jazmin plans on studying biology at  Tunxis Community College and transferring to a university for her junior and senior year of college. 

One major benefit of going to a Connecticut Community College is the price. For the time being, Connecticut State Community Colleges costs $4,500 for full time students. As a result of the PACT Agreement, many students are even eligible for free tuition. Attending community college for even just one year can save students thousands of dollars in tuition fees. Not only is community college significantly cheaper than a private school or university, but community college offers night classes and a flexible schedule for students with full time jobs.

The price of attending a Connecticut Community College greatly contrasts the costs of some of the private colleges and universities in Connecticut. Classes for instate students attending the University of Connecticut start at $15,600 a year. With room, board, and a meal plan, students can expect to pay as much as $36,000 for yearly tuition. Quinnipiac, a private college located in Hamden Connecticut, costs just about $50,000 for classes with an estimated total of $70,000 for room, board, and a meal plan.

People often say that you get what you pay for. But is that really true in the context of community college versus private college and university? 

It is important to note that all community colleges offer classes at the collegiate level, meaning the classes taught are held to the same standard as a university or private college. Community colleges also offer lower level classes due to the fact that they accept students of all academic backgrounds. In the past, students had trouble getting credit for their classes taken at community college when trying to transfer schools. While some community college credits are not accepted everywhere, “In the past 15 years that I have been a counselor, the community colleges in Connecticut have worked really hard to rebuild their reputation,” says Jennifer Theodoratos, a counselor at Canton High School.