Why Community College is a Respectable Option

Ms. Heald, B-CC’s College Career Advisor, recalled, “I actually had a parent roll their eyes at me when I suggested Montgomery College.” It is not a secret that most B-CC parents expect their child to attend a highly-ranked university once they graduate. But is this actually a better option than the overlooked alternative of community college? Or is it a way to gain bragging rights and increase student debt?

The cost of attending Montgomery College is about $5,000 per year. The University of Maryland, College Park, costs about $29,000 while living on campus. A public out-of-state school is about $50,000, and private universities are typically over $70,000. Paz Berazay, a B-CC class of 2022 graduate who now attends Montgomery College, commented, “I definitely think community college is a smart choice because you get to spend a lot less money. You can also take the basic courses that every university makes you take.”

The first years of college consist of prerequisite courses that are relatively the same whether you attend Harvard University or Montgomery College. Going to a community college for the first two years can save thousands of dollars while still providing the credits required for entry-level courses at a four-year university.

Even students who claim to know what they want to study end up changing their major. This ends up wasting thousands of dollars. A Student Loan Hero Study discovered that the average cost of a college credit hour is $1,586 for students at four-year private colleges, $1,148 for students at four-year public out-of-state colleges, $448 for students at four-year public in-state colleges, and only $158 for students at community colleges.

Whit Dodge, a B-CC class of 2021 graduate and current student at Southern Maine Community College, commented, “I know a fair number of people who dropped out after realizing college isn’t for them or wound up hating their major. This isn’t to say there is anything wrong with trying different things to see what works and what doesn’t, but everyone should be wary of the time wasted and the financial toll of going to college on a whim.”

Additionally, most professors at community colleges either currently teach at, or have taught at, a four-year university. At Montgomery College, 40% of the full-time instructional faculty hold a doctoral degree. Many faculty members of Montgomery College have been named Maryland Professor of the Year by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education.

For the 2022-2023 academic year, Montgomery College media professor Tiffany Thames Copeland received a Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program award in Communication from the U.S. Department of State and the Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board. The professors are evidently not of a lesser quality than those at a four-year institution.

Berazay also expressed, “I feel like nowadays, students do not really think about community college, because there is a stigma around high school that makes community college seem ‘less’ than a four-year university and that is not as good; something that is not true.”

The choice made after completing two years of community college is commonly transferring to a four-year university for a bachelor’s degree. Ms. Heald explained that “there are Honors programs [at community colleges] that have connections with top-tier universities.” After the transfer from a community college to a four-year college is made, students can finish their remaining credits within the next two years. Once they graduate from a four-year university, the name of that institution is what goes on a resume.

Dodge also emphasized that “many community colleges also offer vocational training or certifications for those hoping to get into a trade.” Thus, it is evident that going to a community college offers a multitude of choices at a lower cost.

The stigma surrounding community colleges is apparent everywhere, but especially in the B-CC community. Students crave the bragging rights that come with going to a “name-brand” school to show how smart and accomplished they are. Most dismiss the idea of community college before even looking into it. When looking past the stigma, it is clear that community college is an incredibly smart choice and often the best choice to make.