6 Useful Tips to Complete Your Community College Degree on Time
March 18, 2019
Attending a community college is a great way to save money while pursuing your higher educational goals. According to the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, 54% of students who start at public two-year colleges complete their education or are still enrolled in courses after six years. To ensure that you complete your associate’s degree on time and on budget, consider the following tips:
1. Know Your Career Path
Some people have the mentality that community college is a placeholder until you know what you want. Unfortunately, taking this approach can hurt you in the long run. Don’t wing it - map out your future today! For example, what career path do you want to follow? What major do you want to study? What is ultimately your end goal?
2. Take the Placement Tests
Most community colleges utilize placement testing to measure a student’s skills and knowledge. If you do well on these exams, you may be able to skip certain classes. This can help you graduate on time. Also ask about using prior college credits and AP classes to gain exemptions from entry-level classes.
3. Spread Out Your Courses
Most associate’s degree programs require 60 credit hours, though some require more. Pay attention to this number, as you’ll need to take a certain number of classes each semester to graduate on time. If you find that your course load will be too much, consider spreading out your classes by taking summer school.
4. Consider Alternative Class Options
Community colleges are incredibly flexible with their course offerings. If you have a demanding job, for example, ask about online courses or classes held in the evenings or weekends. Though you may not have a regular class schedule as other students do, you can develop a schedule that works for you.
5. Seek Help from Campus Resources
You don’t have to go through the college experience alone. Before selecting your class schedule, talk to an academic counselor. They can point you in the right direction and prevent you from taking the wrong classes. If you’re having academic trouble, reach out to the school’s support services, which may include childcare, mental health services, counseling and tutoring.
6. Know Your Funding Options
A two-year college is more affordable than a four-year university, but it’s still an investment. Fortunately, there are options to fund your college education - grants, scholarships and loans. Talk to a financial advisor about the federal options that are available first, then you may consider taking out a personal loan.
By attending a community college, you can decrease your tuition bills and stay on track with your career goals. The key is mapping out your future from the start, working with financial and academic advisors and maintaining a reasonable course load. Do this, and you should have no problem graduating in four years.