Opinion: The financial rewards of attending COC

by Morgan Furr 621 views0

“I didn’t know COC changed its mascot,” teased a peer on a COC student athlete’s Instagram, suggesting that COC may not have been the first choice of the apparently boastful student.

I’ve noticed that for many high school students having plans to attend community college or, microscopically, COC, is a shameful last resort as some students are under the assumption that the experience is no different than that of high school. They want to see new faces and a greater change in scenery.

However, choosing COC over a university may benefit a student academically as the curriculum may be easier and the classes are smaller than those of universities. The average class size for community college is 25-35 students while some university lecture halls have 150-300 students in them. Therefore, students may have more one-on-one time with their professors. Students will also be able to test out classes and majors a lot more comfortably and really take their time choosing their career paths.

Students attending COC may also benefit financially. “The current price of a state four-year institution is nearly triple that of a community college. Many students will switch majors in the first two years,” according to money.usnews.com. Changing majors can result in students having to take on a fuller workload in order to graduate on time. Students attending community college will save time and money. “Adding up the cost of my own four-year college experience, I would have saved over $10,000 simply by attending a junior college and transferring. It would have been even more expensive had I switched majors between semesters,” money.usnews.com writer Jeffery King said.

Ultimately, the cost of attendance is the biggest benefit of attending a junior college as students will save and sometimes gain while most likely remaining home with their parents. “Living at home instead of a dormitory or an apartment and graduating sooner than those at a four-year college or university, students are able to join the workforce and start earning real income sooner,” COC’s Student Services Specialist, Lindsey Lassak said.

The average cost of tuition for COC is $1,104 per year for in state residents, according to Lassak. Also, books and student fees can be as much as $1,750 for an academic year, which is “significantly” lower than a four-year university.

$5,730 was the maximum amount awarded for the Pell grant in the 2014/2015 academic years. This is true for all level, both junior colleges and universities. It is the loans that differ and since junior colleges are cheaper, smaller loans may be requested and easier paid back.

Most students don’t have a clear understanding of how a student loan works, they’re just happy to receive the money, not thinking about the future, in others words, interest. “America’s student debt crisis is not only being fueled by skyrocketing tuition and a weak job market, but also by students’ ignorance about financial matters in a system that makes it surprisingly easy for them to attain a loan. In many cases, students barely understand the obligations they’re assuming,” writer of CNN’s The Hechinger Report, Jon Marcus reported.

When asked about her own experience, Lassak joked, “I did attend a junior college many years ago.  Much like today, the cost of attendance was definitely cheaper than attending a four-year university. The process seemed to be much simpler too!”

Many students preparing for higher education seem to want to roam far from COC. With little to no knowledge of the benefits, this attitude has been passed from graduating class to graduating class. “I don’t want to see the same people from my high school and I know a lot of them are going,” 2015 Golden Valley graduate Myah Floyd said. Though many students may feel the same as Myah, they may be open to the possibility of attending COC once the benefits are explained to them.

When asked if she would reconsider if she knew that she could start working professionally earlier with a two-year degree, “Yes, who wouldn’t want to get their money up,” she replied.