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Pro's and con's of Comunity college first?

  1. Aug 30, 2012 #1
    I have a pretty low GPA (2.0) but can raise it this year enough to apply for University of Alaska at fairbanks, ole miss and a few other state schools that will accept me. Unfortuantly I will probobly not be able to afford out of state tuition for any of these (I live in california) and I might just have to do community college or take out some hefty loans. I intend on studying physics and electrical engineering (I want a strong minor in mathematics too) because I would like to work with quantuum computing (though this could easily change as I may find something else a lot more interesting.) So I was woundering what are the pros and cons for community college v.s state schools. Some Pro's I see is that I could potentialy transfer to a much better univeristy with better Reaseach in the area I am interested and I can save a ton of money. Cons are that the rigor may be less, grad schools may look down upon it? AND the rest of my AP physics/ chemistry/ enviro ect. friends are moving off to state and private schools. So I feel kinda like on the super low end. By the way I am currently a senior in my last year of high school and I have no doubt that I can suceed in college. Please give me advice :)[/I]
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 30, 2012 #2
    I go to CC, here are my pros and cons (I live in CA, my opinion is skewed and your experience may be different in Alaska)

    1. cheap
    2. more teacher interaction

    1. hard to get into classes since they are underfunded
    2. less cool stuff (ie no museums, library hours are more limited, etc)
  4. Aug 30, 2012 #3
    I can update this thread after I finish my first semester at Rutgers (I transferred there from a community college). That way I will have a more accurate point of view.
  5. Aug 30, 2012 #4
    I've been enrolled in a community college for the last year and a half, and it's been great. The academics are on par with what I experienced at a large out-of-state university that I went to straight out of college but ended up leaving due to personal reasons. I really wouldn't worry too much about rigor -- most schools use equivalent text books, so if you feel the class is too easy, just dive deep into that book and make sure you understand every piece of material presented. It may be up to you to make your learning rigorous, or your professor may choose to do so. Either way, you'll be just fine if you really desire to learn all you can.

    I can't speak for grad schools, since I'm not there yet, but I can't really imagine them looking down on community colleges being on your transcript. All your upper division courses will be at a four year university anyway, and I imagine those are the courses they'll look into the most. That's just my opinion, based on conjecture and not fact -- I'm sure someone else can fill you in better.

    The cons to going to a community college -- by far, the biggest thing you have to worry about and look into is whether or not your credits will transfer to the university you hope to attend in the future. My large state university accepts nearly every single class, and so do most of the larger universities in surrounding states that have transfer agreements. Schools that are farther away may present some challenges, and may not accept too many of your transfer credits -- this is something you'll have to look into with exacting detail.

    In my opinion, it's worth it to go to a community college and save a large amount of money. Perform as well as you can, then transfer to your local state university. Perform well there, and perhaps you'll be accepted to a prestigious grad school.
  6. Aug 30, 2012 #5
    I actually started in a community college myself, though they just changed to a state school this year. I did it because I am an adult with a family, and it was the most financially feasible option for us at the time.

    As far as the pros:
    1. Affordable - All my expenses so far have been covered under subsidized loans, so no interest accruing while I'm in school
    2. Transfer - My college has connections with all the top universities in the state. When transferring, this prioritizes me over people from other states, making it (according to my honor's advisor) a virtually guaranteed "in."
    3. Convenient - Community colleges are everywhere. No moving to go to college, just start at the nearest one.

    1. Lack of resources - My biggest issue right now is my college has NO research in the physics field at all. Though I am trying to participate in a co-op through the nuclear med dept. of a hospital, it is not ideal and does not involve research like I will be doing down the road.

    2. Lack of quality - Though my current college is pretty good in regards to quality advisors and other staff, the previous college I planned to attend wasn't. They never returned phone calls (this was a very common complaint amongst prospective students), the advisors rushed you and acted as if helping you was a bother, and their financial aid department was virtually non-existent. In this regard, you get what you pay for, and although my current college is much better than the first one I looked into, the universities are a step up from most community colleges in expertise.


    As far as your concern about the community college hurting your chances for grad schools later on, don't worry about it. When you finish your AA, transfer to a larger university, and finish your bachelors, the important thing is where you finished your bachelors. If you were only getting an AA, that would be a different story. This is something I was concerned about as well, and spoke with many advisors on the subject. However, even top schools like M.I.T. understand some people need to save money when first getting started, so no, it should not hurt you in that regard.
  7. Aug 30, 2012 #6
    Ah yes, I almost completely forgot to mention this. Basically, if you are transferring in-state, you will be fine. However, if you plan to travel to an out-of-state school, it could turn out to be a disaster. I knew someone who had to move due to family health concerns, and the college they had to transfer to only accepted about 15% of all his courses for his first 3.5 years in college. He basically had to start all over, but still owed all that money.

    Note, however, once you finish your bachelors, this won't matter. This is only an issue when going from your AA to your bachelors. After you do that, you have your bachelors, and it is essentially starting over again with a grad school.
  8. Sep 5, 2012 #7
    really? Whoever this was, could have taken classes at the new school and just had them transferred into the new school. Assuming they were equivalent, which is something you have to look into beforehand, but it's very feasible. If you have a syllabus it's very easy to say "look here" and compare the rigors of a course to the destination college. One has to do the leg work themselves but it's very possible

    (Always get a syllabus if you plan on transferring credits out of state and if you can contact the school you'll want to transfer it into before you take the class)
  9. Sep 5, 2012 #8
    I think the biggest con is the fact that your GPA doesn't transfer into the 4 year university that you'll eventually end up. Usually this leads to a lower overall GPA on your university transcript than what you otherwise would have had with basics included in its calculation.

    I disagree that the quality of the education suffers in all cases as some people have mentioned or even in the majority of cases. In my area there's many many community colleges with many many different professors teaching the same classes. You can easily ratemyprofessor.com various professors and get the best one. I actually took calculus based physics at a community college and transferred the credit into my university and ended up with a significantly better foundation in the fundamentals than my classmates at university :/ There are some great professors at some community colleges in spite of the perceived stigma.
  10. Sep 5, 2012 #9
    A lot of people are actually encouraging community college work because of its convenience. You basically take all of your GEs and introductory major work at an institute that's close to free, and then graduate from a university with your degree (which is really why anyone wants to go to college). The gain is ultimately the same, and you pay less for it.

    The only cons I would cite is that difficulty for transfer is increasing dramatically. I know kids who had 4.0s and couldn't get into their top schools. Bear in mind that this was for engineering, and they applied to some of the best engineering schools in the world (UC Berkeley, Cal Poly, Stanford, etc). Also, community college coursework can, to some degree, be more difficult. Professors there are likely going to be less available for help and such because the attitude at CCs is different. Of course, this varies at the CC, and tends to genreally be true for GEs and intro classes anyways, so there isn't too much of a difference.
  11. Sep 5, 2012 #10
    Ohhhhhh yes, forgot about this. While I'm proud of the GPA I have now, it won't factor in to the graduating GPA I'll receive on my final transcript. It'll show up as a transfer GPA, but that's about it. It's unfortunate, but what can I do? I'll just have to do my best and take it as it comes. I've just been dual enrolled at my CC and the university I wish to transfer to, and I'm only a year in; so all of the classes I take at my CC from now on WILL show up in my final transcript, while still letting me pay CC prices. If this is an option for you, OP, I strongly suggest you look into similar programs in your area.
  12. Sep 5, 2012 #11
    Just something to look into: some CC's have honors programs. This new CC I'm attending this year has it and I'm taking honors calculus (it's basically more rigorous work on top of the normal class).
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