Note: Guest contributor Sara Dennis of Classically Homeschooling shares her experience after having graduated several of her own children from homeschool high school. Community college does not have to be a second or third choice; there are many valid reasons to consider community college as Plan A!
Are you facing the end of high school with a kid who don’t know what they should do next? Asking our young high school graduates what their plans are for their adult life can be intimidating for them. What happens when your kid can’t answer?
Sometimes jumping straight into a four-year university isn’t the best decision. Thankfully, these days teens have many wonderful options to choose from, and community college is definitely worth considering.
In my experience, sending a young adult to a community college rather than a traditional four-year university worked beautifully for several reasons.
Reasons to Consider Community College After High School
1. Community colleges are affordable
Community colleges tend to be much more affordable than four-year universities. This gives children a chance to complete their general university requirements at a fraction of the cost. You’ll spend half the amount of money to complete these needed classes as you would if your child attended university.
Often there is a community college near your home which gives your children the option of living at home during their first year or two of college. The savings you’ll experience with your kid spending two years living at home and attending the local community college vs. attending a university can be substantial.
Your child may even be able to graduate college without taking on student debt.
2. Community college gives kids a chance to explore
Not every child graduating from high school, even if they are homeschooled, knows what they want to study. Community colleges give kids a chance to explore various classes at a fraction of the cost.
At the same time, since your child can focus on obtaining a general transfer degree that allows them to explore different areas of study, they won’t fall behind their peers. You’re not looking at adding two or three more years of college expenses to your child’s study. Instead, they can take two years to explore their options, transfer, and be ready to declare their major at that time.
This allows your young adults to try classes such as pottery, music, chemistry, and history.
3. Community colleges provide more hand-holding
In my experience, community colleges provide more resources for students than universities do. Local colleges offer classes on study skills, allowing kids to develop those skills as they attend class.
The local colleges also offer extensive tutoring opportunities that the university doesn’t. Students find tutors for English and math waiting in the tutoring center. Plus, if there isn’t a tutor for a specific class your child is taking, the college will find a tutor.
This was amazing during those first few chaotic months of lockdown. My kid asked for and received a tutor for each online class. The tutors eased the transition to online education.
4. Community colleges have easier admission policies
Not every homeschool high school student follows a traditional route through high school. The non-traditional route gives kids the freedom they need to grow, learn, and mature. However, it doesn’t always translate well to a standard transcript.
One reason to consider community college after high school is because the admission policy is easier than the admission policy at a four-year university. Kids usually only need a high school diploma and be age 18 to enroll.
Then your child can complete the associate’s degree and transfer to a traditional university.
5. Community colleges have smaller campuses
Another reason to consider community college after high school is because a community college tends to have a much smaller campus. The smaller campus means it’s easier to make friends, find classes, and obtain help as needed.
Kids can get to know their professors because the classes tend to be smaller as well. A smaller campus can help less outgoing children make the transition from high school to university life.
The smaller campus gives students confidence as they navigate their new adult life.
6. Two years to an Associate’s degree
One of my kids, upon graduating high school, informed me that he didn’t want to commit to yet another four years of education. He wanted the option of being done with school in just a couple of years.
Community college gives kids who aren’t certain they want the commitment of a four-year degree program an option. Instead of four years, they only need to complete two years. Then they can decide if they want to move on and tackle the second goal of achieving their bachelor's.
While my kid did graduate and attend a traditional four-year university, the community college allowed him to focus on a smaller goal first. Once there, he discovered he was halfway to his bachelor's degree.
Sometimes, you need to give kids the option of getting through college in small bites rather than one big gulp.
7. Many community colleges do offer dorm living
As my kids like to put it, back in the dark ages when I attended university, community colleges didn’t offer dormitories. Students were expected to live at home or in an apartment. The option of living in a dormitory wasn’t available.
Now, many community colleges are starting to offer dormitories. This is amazing if you have a child who may not be quite ready to fly hundreds or thousands of miles from home but still would like to experience dorm life.
The dormitories are an amazing first step out of high school. Kids have limited bills to cover. There’s an advisor or supervisor for the dorms and the floors. If a child runs into issues, someone is there to help.
The dorms are full of young adults their age. It’s easier to make friends, get to campus, and study.
Dorms at a community college make it possible to send the kids to a less expensive school for their first couple of years of higher education while still giving them the priceless experience of dorm life.
I found that the years my kids spent at the community college gave them time to figure out what interests they wanted to develop as they entered adult life. And we didn’t spend tens of thousands of dollars paying the university for this time! The kids had the space, time, and support they needed to flourish academically.
Don't look down on sending your kid to community college. Hopefully these seven reasons to consider community college have shown that it may be the perfect fit!