There can be many excellent reasons for attending a junior college, also called a community college. These can relate to financial need, previous scholastic performance, continued education requirements, job retraining, or flexibility in hours of attendance. Some people find that the certificate programs available at a junior college are all they need to launch a successful career.
From a financial standpoint, attending a junior college makes excellent sense. In the US, community or junior colleges tend to be the least expensive education option for the first two years of college. If you don't have sufficient money to attend a four-year university, the junior college can save you lots of money, as you won’t be required to take out large loans the first two years of college.
Poor performance in high school, or even at a four-year college doesn’t affect your ability to get into a junior college. Most have what is called an open door policy, which allow you to enroll, even if you haven’t done well in the past. If you need to do a little extra work to pass classes, remedial courses can give you the preparation you need to be more successful in advanced classes, and you can often retake remedial courses if you don’t do well the first time.
Attending a junior college when you’ve had a poor high school performance is also an excellent way to show your abilities to four-year colleges that might not have accepted you based on that performance. Success in junior college can open up access to transferring to other colleges. Students who want to transfer to another college are more frequently judged by their junior college performance instead of their high school grades or SAT scores.
The community or junior college may also offer courses for those who need to fulfill continuing education requirements. This can be an excellent and inexpensive way to meet such requirements in a variety of fields. Continuing Ed classes can also be offered on nights or weekends, making them easier to attend for the working professional.
Some people decide mid career that they really don’t like their occupation. But a more complicated life, the need to pay bills, and many factors may mean you can’t give up an old job while going through retraining. A junior college frequently offers job retraining and flexible class times to take classes so workers can continue to work and start on a new career at the same time. Further, most junior colleges offer online classes, creating greater convenience for someone interested in a new career.
Perhaps you don’t know what you’d like to do. A junior college offers either working professionals or recent high school graduates opportunities to explore through introductory courses. Taking a course of interest to “try out” what a major in that subject would feel like is a great way to determine your career goals. Additionally, most junior colleges don’t require you to have a declared major, or are liberal about allowing you to change it.
Alternately, your chosen career may only require certification, which a junior college provides. You can train to be a chef, a daycare teacher, an electrician, a paralegal, or a nurse, to name just a few. Check with your individual junior college for a listing of active certification programs. These certification programs remain far less expensive than the professional private schools offering the same training.
Unlike the four-year university system, teachers, not teacher’s assistants, teach you. This translates to smaller class sizes, more opportunity to participate and greater access to your teacher. In many large universities, most general education courses are taught by PhD candidates, who may not ultimately want to teach, so skill at teaching can vary. Conversely, the junior college instructor usually has chosen to work at a junior college because he/she enjoys teaching and interacting with students. This attitude can only benefit the student, especially when a student needs a little extra help from an instructor.