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Chelsea tells you why you should consider community college.

Here's a helpful list of associate degree programs available at many community colleges:

The Financial Diet blog:

Hi guys! It's Chelsea, from The Financial Diet, and today we're going to be talking about something that's very special to me but that we haven't yet talked about on the channel and that is community college. Now I know that community college probably isn't your idea of a fun topic to discuss but given that about half of the people we talk to every day on the site are dealing with student debt in some way, it's definitely a relevant thing to think about.

Now the average senior graduating from college today graduates with about $28,400 in student debt which is insane when you consider the fact that A: a lot of them didn't need to take out that much money to get their degree and B: a lot of them got degrees that probably aren't helping them get a good job.

So if you're a high school senior right now, which some of you might be, you're probably dealing with the enormous pressure, the big question, of where are you going to go to school. And I know that most people around you are probably doing one thing and that's pressuring you to go to the best possible school that you can get into. But the problem is, when you're looking at where to go for your college education, a lot of people don't even consider community college because of the stigma that's attached to it. And as someone who went to community college after high school, I can definitely confirm that that stigma is huge and it really gets in the way of your decision making.

One of the biggest things that people will tell you when you're making the choice to go to community college is that you're "too smart" to be going. Now as someone who, I guess, comes off as reasonably intelligent and can put a sentence together, people kept repeating to me, over and over again, and we're talking even adults, parents, friends of parents, parents of friends, everyone. "You're so smart, you're so articulate, why are you going to community college? You could be going to a real school." Now obviously there's about a million problems with that sentence, but the biggest one for me was that no, I couldn't.

When I was coming out of high school, "real college", which by the way is a completely b.s. term that we should all take out of our vocabulary, was definitely not an option for me. I had absolutely terrible grades, I never took the SATs, I didn't turn in my homework, but because of the way I presented myself, people assume that I was "too smart" to be going to community college and the thing is, they didn't just say that to me. They said that to other people that I went to community college with who actually did have good grades and were going there specifically to save money. And there's almost nothing worse that you can say to a young person who's trying to make a smart financial decision for themselves than that they're too smart to be doing it.

Now I happen to go to community college because I didn't have, let's say, a huge array of options after high school but there are plenty of reasons people choose to go to community college. You can go because, like me, you weren't ready for a four year school yet, you can go specifically to save money and then plan on transferring, or you can go for one of the many degrees and certifications that they offer that will land you into a job right after community college.

Now the truth is a lot of people coming out of high school will look down their nose at a lot of the degrees and certifications that you can get from a CC, but trust me, when you're graduating from a four year school with A: debt and B: a degree that is not getting you a job, you're going to look at a lot of those jobs that people got right out of community college and be like "damn, I wish I had that salary."

Now if your goal is to transfer after community college to a four year university instead of going straight into a job, it's important to remember that at most community colleges, they offer an entire curriculum of classes that transfer directly into the state school of your choice. Now this means that you can do a full two years at a community college and then transfer to the school of your choice and graduate with a degree from that four year school and no one is going to know the difference when they look at your resume. 

Now when I went to a community college, I was planning to transfer to a four year school as well and we have to remember that when I came out of high school, literally the worst school I can think of off the top of my head would not take me, and when I came out of community college, I was not only getting accepted to great schools, but getting scholarships to them. 

And this is because community college taught me how to be a student, not only was it flexible to my schedule, allowed me to have jobs and internships, but it also had tiny class sizes, something you don't always get at some of the bigger four year schools, where I got to know my professors, I had great relationships with people in my class, and I actually started to enjoy the process of being a student. 

Now one of the things that people are definitely going to give you crap about if you decide to go off to community college is the social aspect of school. People are gonna be like what do you mean you're not going to go to, you know, dorm parties and get alcohol poisoning and paint your face for football games and such. And that's true, some of those things don't exist at community college, but speaking from personal experience, the social aspect of community college was awesome. When I was going to CC, I didn't just live off campus in a house with friends and it was fun and that whole experience, but I was also in tons of clubs, did tons of theater productions, and was even able to start my own club with funding from the student association because the campus was so tight-knit and it was easy to get funding for what you wanted to do. 

Now I don't have a degree, because I was hired for my first full-time job while I was still finishing school, but most of my friends from community college do because they transferred, but like me, they have almost no student debt because most of them did the full two years at community college, transferred to a less expensive school, and continued to commute. 

Now there are obviously some people who will go to community college and still end up with significant student debt but it certainly makes it a lot easier to start on the little to no debt path if you start off in community college. Now obviously if you're certain of your post high school path and have figured out financially how you're gonna make it work, you should go to the college that's right for you, but if A: you're not totally sure of what you want to do or B: you haven't figured out how to make it financially reasonable, definitely consider community college. CC allows you to figure out your life without the pressure of an expensive tuition that's forcing you to make decisions quickly and as a teenager.

Now if I had listened to all those people who were so negative about my decision to go to community college, who told me I was "too smart" for it, I would have ended up making the decision that impressed them but was totally wrong for me. There are tons of misconceptions out there about community college and the least you can do for yourself and your own financial future is to research it and see if it might be the right decision for you. So look up your local CC and see-see what it can do for you. And don't forget to subscribe and to go to the for more. Bye!