Reasons to Go to a Community College First

Why go to community college first then transfer

When it comes time to start researching colleges, many students ask themselves: Should I go to a community college or a university? While it’s a very individual decision, many students find that there are multiple benefits of going to a community college and then transferring to a four-year institution. Today we will explore those benefits and explain why Tompkins Cortland Community College is a smart choice for prospective college students in the Finger Lakes region of Upstate New York.


Why go to a community college first? Perhaps the most popular among the list of reasons to go to a community college first is affordability.
According to the College Board, the average costs of college tuition and fees for the 2021-2022 academic year were as follows:

  • $38,070 at private colleges
  • $10,740 at public colleges (in-state residents)
  • $27,560 at public colleges (out-of-state residents)

By comparison, the cost of TC3 is $9,862 for in-state residents and $15,630 for out-of-state residents for the 2022-2023 academic year, representing significant cost savings. TC3 allows students to obtain a degree without crushing debt while enjoying high academic standards and a choice of more than 40 degree programs.
If you’re curious about the benefits of going to a community college and then transferring, it pays to calculate what you’ll save by starting your education journey at a community college like TC3. Check out our net price calculator here.

Ease of Transfer

The National Student Clearinghouse Research Center reports that more than one third of college students will transfer to another college. Let’s look at the benefits of going to a community college and then transferring.
TC3 has articulation agreements with a number of four-year colleges and universities within 100 miles of our campus. An articulation agreement is essentially a partnership between two institutions where credits from the first school are recognized at the second school, making it easy to transfer credits to a nearby university. When considering reasons to go to a community college first, it makes sense to explore articulation agreements between your colleges of choice.
Since TC3 is one of 30 community colleges in the State University of New York system, many of our students transfer to four-year SUNY colleges—often SUNY Cortland, which is less than 10 miles away. Other popular SUNY colleges in the vicinity include SUNY Binghamton, SUNY Oswego, and SUNY Potsdam, among others. Take a look at various SUNY Seamless Transfer Paths and see how easy transferring can be.
In addition to SUNY schools, there are several well-regarded private four-year colleges and universities within 100 miles of TC3, including Cornell University, Syracuse University, Ithaca College, and more. See what universities you can transfer to after starting your education at TC3—and discover ways to save when you’re ready to transfer.

A True College Experience

When looking at the pros and cons of community college vs university, many students consider needing to live off campus as a con. After all, most community colleges do not offer dorms or other on-campus housing, making a daily commute the norm.
This is not the case at TC3, which offers seven residence halls, each with its own unique feel. Every apartment features a single bedroom plus a common living area, with a full kitchen, cable, Wi-Fi, and laundry. Here, you can enjoy a true culture of community and an authentic college experience with a vibrant campus life.
TC3 also offers many helpful resources to drive student success. Get help with academic decision making, receive guidance on transferring, or work with a community college career coach to receive help with your job search, resume, cover letter, and interview skills.

Experience It All at TC3

Now that we’ve addressed the reasons to go to a community college first, we invite you to begin your education at the area’s smartest choice: Tompkins Cortland Community College. Learn more about TC3 today!