During College: Courses at Your Nearby Community College Can Enrich an Otherwise Lost Summer

This summer, many university students are taking classes at their local community colleges. You may want to join them so you, too, can make the summer a plus instead of a minus.

Maybe that dream summer internship you were offered got cancelled because of coronavirus. Perhaps your experience-building, well-paying job from last summer fell through for similar reasons. Possibly you’ve been aggressively seeking summer work, but can’t find any in this, the greatest economic crisis since the Great Depression of the 1930s. Or maybe you canceled plans to attend your 4-year college or university this summer after a frustrating spring of online classes taught by instructors who struggled to digitize teaching they’d been doing face-to-face for decades.

Whatever the reasons, you face a choice this summer — sit around until your university classes resume, or salvage something positive out of what could otherwise be the “lost summer” of 2020. Taking classes at your local community college is a way to do this. Here’s how:

  • Cost Savings: You may not qualify for financial aid as a summer-only community college student but, hey, on average, community college tuition and fees are just 37% of those at public universities and only 10% of what private universities charge. And by attending your local community college while at home, you’ll probably avoid room and board expenses, too.
  • Transferable Courses: Don’t pay for anything that doesn’t help you make progress toward your bachelor’s degree. So carefully scrutinize available classes and consult with academic advisers at your community college and university, then take classes that’ll be accepted in transfer by the university. These may not fulfill requirements for your major because universities are sometimes reluctant to graduate students whose career-specific courses weren’t taught by their own faculty. But if you still need classes to fulfill your institution’s general degree requirements, or to complete prerequisites, take them at your community college and transfer the credits.
  • Online Courses: Are your community college’s courses online? Don’t let this put you off. These schools have provided distance education to almost 25% of their students since 2007-08, and they’ve long had heavy commitments to developing their online faculty and infrastructures, unlike some universities that went online as an emergency in March.
  • It’s Not Too Late: But your community college’s already started teaching summer classes. OK. Most community colleges divide summer into at least two terms, so register for two or three courses in the second of those terms.

Don’t let this summer go to waste! Use classes at your community college to get your bachelor’s degree cheaper, faster, and maybe even with higher-quality learning experiences than you’d otherwise enjoy.

Use the Topical Index on the College Affordability Solutions website to find a wide variety of strategies for before, during, and after college to help make your postsecondary educational costs more manageable.

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