There are many reasons that your child may choose to enroll at a community college before transferring to a traditional university. In most cases starting off at a community college has proven to be beneficial for students and leads to a higher success rate among four year degree seekers.
One of the biggest reasons that students choose to attend a community college is to save money on their general education requirements. Community college credits can cost a fraction of what a larger university will charge, and in most cases the subject matter is the same at both schools, especially for the early semesters. This means that you will only be paying the higher rate for the classes that directly relate to your child's major at the junior and senior level.
Another benefit to the community college strategy is that universities are much more likely to accept students who already hold college credits, and especially if they have attained an associates degree. Having a two year degree shows school administrators that your child is already up to speed on the college experience and is ready to take on the harder work that comes with upper level classes.
In addition to the college acceptance rates, many universities are working directly with local community colleges to create seamless transfer programs that allow students to move from one school to the next without losing any of their credits or missing out on any important information.
Be aware though that transfer students frequently find that all of their credits won't transfer. The average transfer student loses about 13 credits. If you know your student wants to transfer, it's best to choose a community college and four-year school that have a transfer-track arrangement. If not, call the school and see what you can do to transfer as many credits as possible.
It is difficult to track the success rate of transfers as their data isn't collected in regular reporting. However, one study found that 60% of students who transfer from a community college are able to finish their Bachelor's degree within four years, and overall 80% of transfer students finish their degrees even if it takes more than four years.
Currently only about 20% of community college graduates go on to a four year program, but they are typically more successful in those programs than students who did not finish an Associate's level program first.
The current graduation rate for all students in four year programs is roughly 59% after six years. Of those graduates 45% say that they previously enrolled in a community college.
Overall, transferring credits from a community college can be a great way for your student to save money and get ahead. The most important factor in choosing a school should be to make sure that all of the transfer credits will be accepted at their final destination school. The best way to do this is to look for community colleges that have already aligned themselves with the university programs to provide an integrated program.
If done successfully, your child's experience at a community college will be excellent preparation for upper level coursework, and a greater chance for completing their degree in a timely manner.
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