Community college gets a bad rap in popular culture as a second-rate or “cheap” education option for losers. Nothing could be further from the truth, but the constant marketing campaigns of large universities can make community college a hard sell. As a parent, you need to use all the tactics at your disposal to convince your child that community college can be a great choice and a smart, practical alternative to four-year programs.
This means appealing to emotional aspects as well as practical points. Let’s face it – you’re talking to a 17 or 18 year old facing the prospect of the future head-on It will take a mix of logic and psychology to help them see that a community college is going to be the best place for them to start!
Emphasize the value of debt-free living
Attending community college is a chance to get a higher education without also signing up for a lifetime of debt. Student loans are a cement block holding back millions of college graduates from buying a house, traveling, having kids, or even keeping a relationship – in modern dating, finding out a potential partner is loaded with student debt can end engagements, according to The New York Times.
College costs can be scary, while avoiding them is smart. As a parent, you can play up the fear factor or emphasize how much easier and smarter it is to pay community college prices for general education courses like English composition, history, and basic math. Where applicable, you can also sell your student on the ability to pay for school on their own without needing your help or being a burden to the family finances.
Talk up small class sizes
Large lecture classes are normal for big universities, who may pack 100, 200, or even 500 students in a class. Community colleges, on the other hand, tend to have much smaller class sizes of between 10 to 30 students per class. This translates to much more personalized attention from professors and better grades for community college students.
Discuss figuring out what you want for less
Two out of three students change their major at least once while at college. In university settings, this can mean extra years of school and substantial costs, with competition for class space making it hard to jump around between degrees. At community college, it is easy for students to take classes from a number of different areas to figure out what they really want to do – and while they’re exploring, they won’t be running up a fortune in student debt.
Have an honest look at GPAs
A so-so high school GPA can be a major drawback for students going to university, and it may be a sign of struggles ahead if your son or daughter doesn’t have great study skills. Students can – and do! – fail out of school when the combination of distractions and strict academic standards overwhelm their ability to buckle down and study to get good grades.
If you know grades are an issue, the smaller class sizes at a community college are a real blessing. Many community colleges also assign lighter homework loads since most of their students work as well as go to school. The smaller class sizes let them cover more in the classroom, negating the need for extensive out of class busy work to review material. For students who have other priorities in life, this approach can help ensure learning and good grades without the hateful homework burden.
Discuss practical vs. impractical degree programs
Community colleges cater directly to real communities of workers and employers. As a result, their courses tend to be very practical, training students for office administration, vocational careers, and basic business needs without a lot of fluff. Within two years, students can have an associate’s degree that will open doors for them with regional and national employers.
At four-year universities, coursework can be much more divorced from the real world. Some of it is theoretical, but much of it can be impractical. Your child can pay a fortune for a degree in things like Communication Studies or Gender Issues, only to find that their degrees are worthless in the actual job market. Universities don’t suffer many direct consequences when this happens, but students do.
Emphasize a fast path to real work
Community colleges offer a fast path to real jobs. Your child can tick the box marked “college degree” for job applications without spending years trapped outside of the workforce. For kids eager to start their careers or kids who hate school and want to be free of it for good, a quick trip through community college gets them the base-level qualification needed to meet employer requirements for a college degree without holding them back for ages.
Mention staying close to friends and family
For some students, the idea of “going away” for college is what’s really scary. They have to leave behind friends and family, to say nothing of love interests and the world they know. With community college, students can stay closer to home and still get a good education.
There will always be some students who want to get as far away as they can when they finish high school, but for many others the uncertainty of the wider world is frightening. Encourage them to build their confidence and their academic skills close to home where they can stay by people they know and love until they graduate.
©2012 Off the Grid News