Is Community College Worth It? Yes—Here’s Why!

Students researching benefits of community college

These days, the reputation of community college is a lot different than it used to be. Gone are the days of assuming community college is only for students who struggle or students who can’t get accepted to a four-year school.
People are beginning to see community college for what it is: a smart place to launch a higher education journey while exploring one’s interests and saving on tuition in an uncertain economy.
What’s more, many of today’s community colleges are beginning to rival four-year schools in terms of student experience, on-campus housing, extracurricular activities, and more. 

Is community college worth it? Let’s look at a few factors so you can decide for yourself.

First Thing’s First: What is Community College?

Community college is a two-year, undergraduate institution that typically leads to an associate degree or certificate across a range of different study areas.

Is Community College Easier Than University?

Some prospective students wonder: “Is community college hard?”
Community colleges attract people of all different academic levels and backgrounds—from students who may have needed extra support in high school, to academically strong students who want to save money, to adult learners who are looking to boost their professional credentials and enhance their careers.
Courses are built to serve different learners with different goals, but most are designed to be accessible for any student who is ready to learn.
Some students are interested in going to community college first and then transferring to a four-year school, while others simply want to get their associate degree and secure the best paying jobs for community college graduates.

Community College vs University Tuition

When looking at the pros and cons of community college, one of the most obvious pros is saving money on tuition.  
According to U.S. News & World Report, the average cost of tuition and fees for private universities in 2023-2024 is $42,162. For public four-year colleges, that number is $10,622 for in-state residents, and $23,630 for out-of-state residents.
Let’s compare that with the cost of tuition and fees at a community college. At Tompkins Cortland Community College in Dryden, NY—for example—the 2023-2024 cost of tuition and fees is $7,170 for in-state residents.
With this in mind, it’s safe to say that saving money on tuition is a major reason why community college is better than university for students on a budget. 

Flexible Scheduling

For many students, one of the key reasons to attend community college is that it offers flexible scheduling to suit different lifestyles. For example, community colleges typically offer night and weekend classes, along with a variety of online classes for students who are juggling school, work, and family.

This type of flexibility works well for students of all ages, but is especially relevant for adult learners who may be wondering: “Is community college a good idea for non-traditional students?” Or “Is community college worth it if I work full-time?” In most cases, the answer to both of those questions is yes.

In Summary: “Is Community College Worth It?”

So that brings us back to our original question: “Is community college worth it?”
It all comes down to your academic needs, your budget, your schedule, and your professional goals. 
There are many advantages of community college for students who want to save money, stay close to home, get their grades up before transferring to a four-year school, or pursue career opportunities with community college requirements, such as jobs that can be obtained with an associate degree.

Why Choose Community College at TC3?

Students in upstate New York will find incredible value at Tompkins Cortland Community College, which offers affordable tuition, flexible scheduling, and community college programs across 40 academic areas.

To learn more about the benefits of community college and the programs offered at TC3, click here!