When I was a senior in high school, I, like every other senior, had college counseling.
But as I sat in that meeting, the only schools that were suggested were "real" colleges. Not once was community college mentioned.
And that's a problem.
There's a lot of negative associations with community college, based on some very untrue stereotypes. Community college is often viewed as a cop-out for real college, the place for poor people to go because they can't afford to go anywhere else. The programs are often considered as lesser quality than those offered at "real" colleges.
None of these things are true.
Community college is an amazing resource for students. Yes, it's significantly more cost-effective than traditional colleges, but that is only one of several reasons community college is great.
Some high school seniors don't feel ready to jump right into college. Community college is a good way to ease into the college experience. You can take a couple of classes while working or something else, before stepping up the ante and taking more classes or transferring.
The programs at community colleges are not always "lesser," so to speak than their counterparts in traditional colleges. A friend of mine said she took courses in her program, as well as gen eds, at both community college and our college, and barely noticed a difference. It doesn't matter where you took the classes and did the work; at the end of the day, it's the same information.
There's also a belief that people who attend community college were unable to get into a "real" college. This is laughably untrue. For one, quite a lot of people who attend community college do so as a stepping stone to later enter a traditional college. It's much easier to transfer than to attempt to get into the school as a freshman. I have several friends who started out college at the local community college, finished their program there, and then transferred.
For another, community college is quite convenient for the students who attend. It's local, significantly less of a financial burden, and makes it a bit easier to work while attending college.
And now, the cost part. Community college is also extremely cost effective for those who may not be able to afford a regular college. This is so important. Many high school students are pressured to attend a regular, more expensive college regardless of cost, being told to just take out student loans. The option to go somewhere less expensive that won't land them is crippling debt simply isn't offered.
Why is that? Why is the option to save money and be more financially stable down the line rather than paying off thousands in debts not mentioned?
Some community colleges don't even charge for the first two years. That's two years one can work to save money for tuition at a traditional college. That's two fewer years of potential debt.
Community college is not a weak replacement or excuse for a college. It's an amazing resource that more students should be made aware of.