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Knowledge is Power

01/29/2015 10:49AM ● By LeeAnn Dickson

Folsom Lake College, Main Campus

"An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.” Benjamin Franklin uttered these wise words centuries ago, and the sensible sentiment still rings true today. An education shines through beauty, banality, youth, old age, prosperity and poverty. Whether it’s from a state college, private school or Ivy League university, an advanced degree—even from a community college—can be invaluable in navigating all aspects of life.

Thankfully, California is abundant with community colleges, 112 in all, including several topnotch campuses in the greater Sacramento area. All bring outstanding educational opportunities to everyone—from ages 16 to 80, and beyond. Whether you’re just graduating high school, looking for a new path in life or are a re-entry student, it may be the right choice. Read on for a dozen reasons to consider the community college path.
1 / Transition from high school or reenter school smoothly. Community colleges are smaller than universities and so are class sizes, which can help students acclimate to college’s accelerated academic pace. What’s more, it’s a great way to nurture and improve study habits. Kacy Wilson, a local community college student, agrees. “It was a good transition for me, and my life has been less complicated.”

2 / Explore a new vocation or start your dream career. Community college is a great place to start anew, whether it’s a promotion, wanting to upgrade your skill set, or start a new profession.
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3 / Grow your savings account. It’s a simple fact: Community colleges are more affordable than universities.  Along with the savings on tuition costs, there’s no denying that you can put money in savings, and might avoid having to take on student loan debt. 

4 / Live at home. Again, a great cost-saver. What is the downside to sleeping in your own room and enjoying home-cooked meals? “Living with my mom made a lot of sense and has helped me save money,” Wilson explains.

5 / Get general education classes out of the way inexpensively. Why pay more for the same classes at a university when you can get the same quality of education at your local community college? Most of the first two years of college, students are taking basic classes needed for all majors. “I feel I’ve gotten the same quality general education classes here as those at a university,” Wilson says.

6 / Try on some majors before deciding. It’s sometimes hard to answer that classic childhood question: “What are you going to do when you grow up?” Being fresh out of out of high school is not necessarily the best time to cement your future, and attending community college gives you affordable time to put together the puzzle of what career you want to pursue. Wilson changed her major three times before finding out what was the best fit. “I’m there to study—not necessarily for fun or to socialize,” she says. The sociology major is using her self-described “cheap time” to get the most out of community college before transferring to a university.

7 / Enjoy a more flexible schedule. Community college classes are generally more flexible, which gives students time to take additional classes to explore different career paths, work or have family time. This is especially important for reentry students who need to update their skills or reinvent themselves after retirement or job loss. Community colleges also offer online classes and night classes to accommodate those who are working.

8 / Get more time to connect.  Community college faculty tends to focus more on students and their needs, giving pupils more time to connect and engage personally with instructors. Professors aren’t under pressure to do research or publish papers, which makes for an unparalleled quality learning experience.

9 / Get recognized in smaller classes. Some classes at a university will have up to 400 students, while a class size at a community college is typically about one-tenth of that. Smaller class sizes mean it’s easier to get recognized for a question or comment in a smaller group. Another perk? You have the ability to build relationships with instructors and fellow classmates.
10 / Boost your GPA and confidence. Bump up a lagging GPA and get used to a more intense experience before heading off to a university with a larger, more diverse population; and get a feel for university life by taking the same exact classes before transitioning to a four-year institution.

11 / Get a degree with a guarantee. There are a multitude of new degrees available that you can earn from a California community college that are specifically designed to transfer directly to a California State University (CSU). The Associate Degrees for Transfer program guarantees students a smooth pathway to obtaining a baccalaureate degree at a CSU.

12 / Scholarships and grants are there to help you pay—and pave—the way. Community colleges, just like universities, offer numerous ways to help you pay for school—no matter your age or situation. Staff is available to help you find your way to school, while state and federal programs provide monetary help.

Consider attending a community college, and discover the wide variety of services and educational opportunities that await you.
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