Community College Is the Smart Choice

Joan S. Reed

I’ve had an almost comically varied career path, founding companies in education, robotics and beverages. The most surprising part of my résumé is the most mundane: I went to community college.

For me, the logic was simple. I saved thousands of dollars and the credits counted exactly the same as those from Boston University, from which I ultimately earned bachelor’s degrees in computer science and communications. As the son of a school teacher, the savings meant the world to me. And they mean the world to plenty of other students around the U.S.

Community-college tuition costs roughly one-tenth what an average private, four-year university costs, even less when you factor in on-campus housing. While financial aid can reduce private tuition bills, it can also make community college nearly free.

According to the American Association of Community Colleges, 41{13aab5633489a05526ae1065595c074aeca3e93df6390063fabaebff206207ec} of all undergraduates in the U.S. are enrolled in community colleges, including 39{13aab5633489a05526ae1065595c074aeca3e93df6390063fabaebff206207ec} of first-time freshmen. Those numbers should be even higher. Most college students should begin their careers at community colleges so they can graduate debt-free.

What’s preventing them? Students are embarrassed by community college or simply don’t know enough about it. A recent graduate told me that he didn’t even know that community college, or “junior college” in his words, was real college until he was a junior at his state school. He thought it was a remedial school for delinquents.

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