Why Community College May Make Cents - A Lot of Them

February 8, 2017

When working as a statistician at the Department of Family Medicine at the University of Colorado, Denver, Caroline Bublitz, Ph.D., had to meet a few employees from a community college for a project. She recalls they were surprised when she told them she had attended their school.

Although she went to the Littleton, Colorado-based Arapahoe Community College, in the 1980s, Bublitz said the experience was ideal for her, and believes community colleges are a viable option for anyone – especially in light of the high cost of college.

“The first two years of college is pretty much the same everywhere. You get a lot of great professors at community college, and the same quality. The only thing I would say that is different is you don’t have to go away from home unless you live off of campus,” she told New Age of Advice.

With 70% of college graduates starting their careers in debt, according to the nonprofit Institute for College Access & Success, community colleges may be worth a second look. Even The Wall Street Journal recently gave a nod to community as an option for cost savings, in its article, Does It Pay to Start at Community College? Maybe.

For a public two-year college, the national average net total cost for one year, including aid, books, tuition and room and board, is $7,347. The same things for a four-year college would be $11,913 a year, according to the U.S. Department of Higher Education.

Bublitz says she “happenstanced” into community college because she didn’t do well in high school. But the environment suited her. “I think after you get out of high school, going to a community college sometimes is just better. Especially if you’re someone who wants to go up and talk to the professor,” she said.

Bublitz went on to earn her undergraduate degree in Applied Mathematics, and both a Master’s and Ph.D. in Statistics. She is now a senior statistician at United Health Optum, Denver.

As tuition rates increase, there seems to be a growing trend for attending community college. Nearly half of all students (46%) who completed a degree at a four-year college had been  are enrolled in community college at some point over the past 10 years, according to  the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, 2015.