Some people think it's impossible or even shameful to take community college classes while enrolled in a four year college, but that isn't true! I know plenty of upperclassmen who are very thankful for taking a few community college classes, and I plan on taking a few in upcoming summers as well. You may ask why, and here are three reasons.
1. They save time.
It's difficult to set aside time for school, internships, study abroad and independent vacations. If you need a few extra credit hours, but also want the time to get a summer job, then a community college class or two are the perfect solution. I'm planning on doing research abroad over the summer, but I don't want to overwork myself my junior and senior years by not taking any summer classes beforehand. So, I'm just going to take one or two entirely-online community college courses while abroad and transfer the credit to my four-year college.
2. They save money.
We all have those annoying required classes for our degree plans. Why spend precious life savings on taking those US history classes at a four-year college when you can take it at a community college and transfer the credit? This is especially true if you have six courses left to take for your degree and only room enough for five in one semester. With community colleges, you don't have to pay a four-year college's tuition and housing rate for a semester with a single class.
3. They bypass credit hour limits.
Many colleges, including mine, say that students can only take a certain number of classes each semester. But, with community colleges, the limit does not exist! Maybe this semester your maximum 16 credit hours are made up of required, super-easy courses and you're not keen on paying for an extra semester of school just because of an course limit. Taking those classes at a community college and transferring the hours later won't count against any semester's course limit.
Now you're probably convinced that taking community college classes is a good idea, but how do you make sure you pick the right school? Here's a few tips on making sure you'll make the most of your credits.
1. Check the community college's testing policy.
This is especially important if you're researching or working while taking your community college class. I plan on researching abroad in Spain while taking a class for a US History credit, but I'll be in a sticky situation if I have to go in and take the test in-person in Houston! Even if the community college class is online, they may still want you to come in person to ensure you don't cheat. Double check this before booking any flights, or you'll be racing back home!
2. Check your school's transfer policy.
Check in with your academic adviser to make sure you can transfer the credit from the community college, and whether or not it will fulfill the requirements you want or need. Many colleges only give degree credit to classes taken "in residence," which means your community college credits will just eat up your electives!
3. Take classes at the "local" colleges.
For online courses like mine, it's easy to think that you could take the class at any community college, no matter the location. Not only is this a problem if you have to take exams in person, but just like certain four-year colleges have "out of state" tuition, certain community colleges have "out of county" tuition. Find out which county you legally live in and be sure to apply to that college.
The only barrier to saving a lot of time and money with community college classes is yourself. It may seem complicated or time-consuming to apply to a community college, but it really isn't. By applying, you're opening up doors and saving precious resources you'll need in the future. And hey, if you decide to take a few online courses, maybe I'll see you in Spain.
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