Some students know right away that community college is the best fit for them before heading off to a four-year college, while others come to the decision after realizing it’s their only option due to factors such as financial aid or family responsibilities. If a four-year college is part of your future goals, don’t wait until you finish community college to start planning. As a high school student, you can still be strategic about the community college you select to help set you on the best path to a four-year school.
Here are some factors to consider when selecting a community college if you plan to transfer later on:
If part of your college plan is transferring to a four-year school eventually, you want to research transfer requirements ahead of time so you don’t end up without options. Transferring community college courses to a private college may be more difficult so it’s important to be aware of the transfer admission processes of the schools you are interested in. Some community colleges even have agreements with public state colleges to automatically accept transfer students to specific majors if they meet a set of requirements. If you took Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate exams, research the scores needed to receive college credit at the 4-year college to which you might transfer in addition to the community colleges you’re considering. This way you won’t end up taking unnecessary courses during your first two years when the school you transfer to would have accepted your AP or IB credit. The community colleges you are considering might be known for transferring many students to specific four-year schools, so if you already know which four-year school you interested in it may help to pick a community college that has a good relationship with it.
Attending community college for a year or two can be a great way to save money, but don’t forget to think about how you’ll pay for tuition at the college to which you hope to transfer. Learning the criteria for transfer scholarships could be an extra incentive for you to keep your community college GPA high and seek out leadership roles. Scholarships at the school you want to transfer to might also be for students who have a certain class standing, such as scholarships only for incoming juniors, so keep this in mind when deciding the best time to transfer. As you’re applying to outside scholarships that can be renewed for four years of college, find out if you would be able to transfer them to another school later on.
Extracurricular can still be part of your experience at a community college. Although the offerings might be less than at a four year school, exploring your interests can help you prepare for transferring later on. You will be able to show you are committed to your area of study in your transfer application if you join relevant clubs. If the community college you’re considering doesn’t offer the extracurriculars you hoped to join, you could always start your own! Being at a smaller community college could actually benefit you if there is less competition for leadership roles.
Housing and Transportation
The community colleges you look at might not own their own student housing, but they might be able to give you recommendations to help you find options nearby. Consider your future housing options too. Once you transfer, will you be able to live in the same housing? Does the school you want to transfer to accept transfer students in the housing options they offer? You could also decide to live at home during your time at community college, and then decide to live with others students once after you transfer. If you’re staying close to home for all four years, buying a student pass for public transportation or saving up for a car might be an option for you. On the other hand, if you hope to transfer to a school on the other side of the country after you finish your time at a community college, don’t forget to consider the expense of getting there such as the price of plane tickets.
Even if you’ve spent all of high school hoping to go straight to a four-year college, you can still decide to make the best of your time at a community college first. With enough planning and research, you can reach the same goal of graduating with a bachelor’s degree even if the path you take has a few detours.