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Ask an Expert: What's the Deal with Community College?

Ask an Expert: What's the Deal with Community College?

An expert answers tough questions about community college choices.

By Peter Vogt

October 04, 2010

I’ve been attending a community college and trying to transfer to the state university. However, they keep changing their transfer requirements. Now I have to finish my general requirements as well as a couple other prerequisites. This will take me another year, and there is no guarantee that they will accept my application. I’ve also looked at schools like Devry, which seem to have an open admission policy. Do you have any suggestions for a person wanting to get a degree at 40 years old?

Answer:

I don’t have any specific school recommendations for you, but I do have some suggestions:

1) Sometimes, the only reason requirements “change” at a particular school is just because you have spoken to different people at the school, who have different understandings of their schools’ own policies! Is it possible that you’re getting conflicting messages from various admissions or transfer counselors?

Looking to put your career on the fast track? Consider a career school.

2) No matter which four-year school you apply to, you probably won’t have any guarantee that it will accept your application. That’s just the nature of the college application process. That said, follow the suggestions given to you by transfer and/or admissions counselors. Just be sure to get those suggestions IN WRITING so that, if there is a dispute later on about what you were informed, you have documentation to back up your side of the story.

3) I don’t know much about Devry, but I can tell you that whatever school you are considering, you MUST ask people outside the institution to give you information about it. Don’t rely solely on what the institution itself is telling you.

I’m looking at starting college within the next two years. I graduated high school back in 1999, and my final GPA was less than 3.0. I’ve never taken any kind of college classes, so I’m pretty much starting from scratch. I’ve heard that, typically, students with lower than a 3.0 GPA or who have been out of high school for a while are generally overlooked by universities. I’ve been advised that the best route is to start with community college. Any advice?

Get scholarship and grant tips for nontraditional students.

Answer:

While I don’t know that you’d necessarily be overlooked by a university, it IS good idea for you to explore attending a community college first, for several reasons:

1) It will let you “test the waters” of college-level academic work so you can see how you do with it.
2) It will let you explore various major and career possibilities without feeling pressure to immediately decide on one.
3) It’s almost always significantly cheaper in terms of cost.
4) Community colleges are generally more accessible in terms of admission.


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