Admissions, Choosing A School

Why Community College Isn’t Like High School

No Comments 17 April 2017

Don’t believe the myth that a local community college only will include students from your high school. Students from multiple high schools attend a single community college. Hundreds, or maybe even thousands, of students will be enrolled at the college. You will see new faces every day on campus. You could see a former high school classmate every now and then but eventually you might enjoy seeing a familiar face.

Along with new people to meet, you will have a class schedule that is completely different. Unlike high school, you will be able to schedule classes whenever you want. If you’d rather have classes in the morning so you can dedicate the rest of your time to a part-time job, go for it. If you prefer to sleep in and want your classes in the evening, that works, too. There is no timeline to receive your associate’s degree so you are also able to move as slowly or as quickly as you’d like.

You also have the option to take more diverse classes than you did in high school. Chances are that if you didn’t like a certain subject in high school, you will not need to take a lot of that subject at your community college. You’ll also be exposed all new classes that you did not have the opportunity to take in high school.

If high school came easily to you, you might be in for a shock. Although it isn’t a four-year institution, community college still is a college. That means the classes will be harder. So you cannot put in the same effort as you did in high school and expect to succeed. But luckily you will still have plenty of resources available to you to make sure you will do well in your classes.

Life outside of the classroom will be different in community college than what it was in high school, too. Community colleges offer extracurriculars, just like any four-year university. If you couldn’t find a club or sport that interested you in high school, odds are you will be able to find something that will interest you in college. And if you still can’t find something that interests you on campus, you can likely start your own club.

If you decide to pursue your bachelor’s degree after completing your associate’s degree, follow these steps to make sure your transfer is as smooth as possible.

Admissions, Choosing A School

How to Decide Between Two Colleges

No Comments 12 April 2017

Deciding which college to apply to is an important choice. This decision might become even more difficult when there are two schools left on your list. Ask yourself the following questions to see which school is the better choice for you.

Which school ranks highest for your major?

It’s important that you select a top-notch program that can propel you into a successful career. Do a little research and see which program has a better reputation. Having a well-respected department on your resume could make the difference in landing your first job out of college.

Does one school cost more than the other?

If there is a big enough difference between the out-of-pocket costs between the two schools, this could play a big factor in selecting which school you should attend. You also should look into any additional fees that may arise at either school.

How do the internship and job opportunities compare?

Landing an internship in college is vital to getting a job after graduation. Talk to representatives from the departments at each school and see which institution has a better internship program or resources to help you land an internship. You also should compare the statistics for each school for students finding jobs within the six months after graduation.

How do the activities on each campus compare?

Although academics are important, they are not everything when it comes to your college experience. It is important that you enjoy yourself outside time spent studying and in class. See if you can find a list of on-campus activities for each college and see which list sounds more appealing to you.

How do the logistics of each college compare?

Is the size of one school more appealing than the other? Is one school in a more ideal setting in the other? Is one school a more desirable distance from home than the other? These little details should not be the most important thing when selecting your school but they can make a difference in your everyday life on campus.

Do you feel more comfortable on one campus over the other?

This might be one of the most important factors when selecting the right college for you. You will spend every day for the next few years at this college – it is important that you feel comfortable and happy at your new home.



Admissions, Choosing A School

How to Transition from a Community College to a Four-Year Institution

No Comments 11 April 2017

Completing your associate’s degree at a community college and transferring to a four-year college or university is a perfectly viable path to take for higher education. Just follow these steps to make sure your journey from community college to a four-year institution is as smooth as possible.

Plan Ahead

The earlier you prepare for your transfer, the smoother the process will be. If you plan to spend two years at your community college, you should follow this basic timeline:

  • First semester: Meet with your transfer advisor, research four-year institutions that you might want to attend and learn about their transfer policies. Spend this time thinking about your academic and career goals.
  • Second semester: Visit the four-year schools you are interested in applying to. Talk to the transfer coordinator at that school.
  • Third semester: Learn what financial aid opportunities are available at the schools you plan to apply to. Start to ask for letters of recommendation, request your transcripts and keep track of deadlines.
  • Fourth semester: Submit your transfer and financial aid applications to your top schools.

Find Out if Your Community College Has an Articulation Agreement

These agreements are made between two- and four-year institutions and ensure that an associate’s degree will satisfy freshman and sophomore general education requirements at a four-year institution. If your community college has an articulation agreement with a four-year institution, credits are guaranteed to transfer, as long as you pass each class. If your current college does not have any articulation agreements, check both your current and future school’s website for more information.

Select a Major

If you decide early on what you’re interested in studying, you can talk to your advisor about courses you should take to meet major requirements. You’ll even be able to get major prerequisites out of the way while you are at community college.

Complete Your Associate’s Degree

Don’t just take a random selection of courses. Have a plan and follow it. Studies show that community college students who finish their associate’s degree complete their bachelor’s degree at a higher rate than students who transfer with just a random selection of courses.

Attend Orientation

You might not think you need to do this because you are already a college student. But attending a four-year college or university is vastly different than attending a community college. Take advantage of every opportunity of every opportunity offered to transfer students – it will help easy your transition to your new school.

Admissions, Choosing A School, Low Income Students

Economic Mobility in College

No Comments 06 April 2017

A study from the Equality of Opportunity Project revealed that elite colleges are more focused on being affordable to low-income families than expanding college accessibility.

“At elite colleges, the share of students from the bottom 40 percent has remained mostly flat for a decade. Access to top colleges has not changed much, at least when measured in quintiles,” according to the New York Times.

Low-income students admitted to elite institutions do not appear over placed because their earnings end up being similar to those from wealthier families. This finding debunks the concern that attending a selective college might be disadvantageous to low-income students.

Recent trends in college access show a decline in mobility rates at colleges that had high mobility rates and little change in mobility rates at elite colleges, despite their efforts to increase financial aid. This should call for a revaluation of policies at the national, state and college level.

The study recommends “considering changes in admissions criteria, expansions of transfers from the community college system, or outreach efforts targeted at promising students in primary school before they begin applying to college.”

Higher education often is viewed as the pathway to upward income mobility, which leads students to success. Restricted college accessibility could limit or completely stop colleges from promoting economic mobility among students.

Admissions, Choosing A School, Diversity, Low Income Students

Best Colleges for Low-Income Students

No Comments 24 March 2017

Finding an affordable but high-quality college can be challenging for low-income and first-generation students. This article presents lists of public and private 4-year colleges, all of which have a low net price and a high graduation rate for low-income students.

Not only are these colleges affordable for low-income students, but the students are likely to graduate with an affordable amount of debt.


Students should consider a variety of colleges before they begin the application process. Historically, students from low-income backgrounds have applied to too few colleges, often enrolling at institutions that are not a good academic, social and financial fit. This leads to suboptimal outcomes like low retention and graduation rates and high debt. Students should cast a wide net. Look at private and public institutions, in-state and out-of-state schools, and small and large colleges. Students should be encouraged to learn about colleges and universities you have never heard of before.

Every low-income student should consider their in-state public colleges, as those institutions will often be the most affordable option. In-state public colleges are also a good option because low-income students tend to choose colleges that are close to home. Students may be able to save on college costs by living at home with their families instead of on a college campus.

The net price for public colleges is based on the in-state tuition rates. The net price for out-of-state students may be much higher.

Low-income students should also consider private colleges with low net prices and high graduation rates. In some cases, generous private colleges can have a lower net price than some in-state public institutions.

For both public and private colleges, students should aim to have total student loan debt at graduation that is less than their annual starting salary. If total student loan debt is less than annual income, the student should be able to repay his or her student loans in ten years or less.


The lists of public and private colleges were identified using a combination of two factors:

  • Affordable. Affordability was based on the one-year net price for students with a family income of $0 to $30,000, using data from the 2013-14 Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS). The net price is the discounted sticker price, the costs that remain after subtracting average grants, scholarships and other gift aid from the total cost of attendance. Only colleges with a net price under $12,500 were included.
  • Good Outcomes. Outcomes were based on the 6-year graduation rates for Federal Pell Grant recipients, using data from the Education Trust. The Federal Pell Grant is the largest need-based grant program, awarded mostly to low-income students. Only colleges with 6-year graduation rates of 50% or more were included. This ensures that low-income students at these colleges are more likely to graduate than not.

Some colleges were omitted because the Pell Grant recipient graduation rate data were not available. Examples include Brigham Young University – Provo, Columbia University in the City of New York, Cooper Union and Harvard University.

Several colleges with a reputation for serving low-income students did not satisfy the selection criteria because their net price for low-income students was too high.

We present the lists of recommended public and private colleges in two separate articles.

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