Community College vs. 4-Year Colleges

17th Sep 2015

The following post is a true personal story from one of our college counselors….

It’s a hard topic to cover because so much of this choice is based on individual situations. So, I am going to use myself as an example. I am the eldest of 4 and the first to attend college.

My parental income was such that they would have received federal and student aid if I would have applied for it, but I did not know that existed. My GPA was not horrible, but it wasn’t good enough to get me into my dream school UC San Diego.

CSU Stanislaus was 1 mile from my house and tuition is 6,704/year. Merced College, the closest Community College to my house cost 1,100/year. My GPA would have allowed me to attend Stanislaus but I didn’t want to stay in my home town for 4 years.

I knew if I enrolled at Stanislaus, I would get stuck and I wouldn’t be able to fulfill my dream of going to college on the beach…yes, that was the main reason I wanted to attend UCSD.

Looking back, I had all the markings of a student that SHOULD have enrolled at my local CSU. My parents would have paid close to the same for a CSU since I would be living at home and I qualified for lots of financial aid.

My first generation status meant that it would probably take me longer to get through Community College and I lacked the resources to know how to transfer as quickly as possible.

What all the statistics couldn’t predict, was my extreme motivation to transfer and spend my last two years of college on the beach.

I worked day and night, took at least 18 units per semester and took classes at multiple Community Colleges to finish in two years. I visited the counseling and transfer center twice a month just to check in, annoyed the heck out of all professors, tutors and any other adult who could help me out.

Yes, community college offers lower tuition. However, you have to consider individual factors when deciding what is right for you:

 What is your family situation?

 Do you have family responsibilities that prevent you from attending a 4-year college or university away from home?

 What is your motivation level?

 What is your family financial situation?

 Did you get denied from your dream school?

 Are you still trying to decide where you want to go and what you want to major in?



Author: Shari Schussel

Shari has over a decade of experience in college admissions counseling. She grew up in rural California and is a first generation college attendee.