With the rising cost of a four-year degree from a private educational institution, the question arises: how to graduate from college debt free? Of course, there are many ways to save for your college expenses prior to going: an early savings plan from your family, working part time jobs while in high school, obtaining scholarships from the colleges and/or outside agencies, etc.
In this blog, however, I want to explore the idea (pros and cons) of attending a community college (different from a junior college). Community colleges are traditionally two year institutions that were begun in the early part of the 1900’s and are federally funded.
Junior colleges are also two year institutions, but are private schools. Many community colleges are tuition free: Arkansas, Boston, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Missouri, Montana, New York, Nevada, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, Seattle, Tennessee, Virginia, and Washington are among the states that offer free tuition at their community colleges. And further, as of this date, more and more states are being encouraged to follow their example.
Let’s look then, at the cost of attending colleges and universities, from low (1) to high (5):
1 = Community Colleges (generally the most affordable)
2 = State Colleges (in-state tuition)
3 = State Colleges (out-of-state tuition)
4 = Private Institutions (with scholarship offers)
5 = Private Institutions (with no scholarship offers)
[NOTE: Always, ALWAYS, remember to attend a not-for-profit institution. You can check on the institution, and its status, via their website.]
This is the part that is more difficult to determine. As a counselor, I have always recommended that talented students apply to the best institutions for their major regardless of the cost.
Generally, if you are a truly talented dancer, you may be offered a scholarship by the institution, based on your high school record and your audition, hereby reducing the cost. If this is not the case, and you are not offered a scholarship, then you need to think about the likelihood of generating income in your intended major after graduation.
Do you really want to borrow $50,000 ++ to attend a prestigious institution when employment can be scarce in your chosen field?
If you have to borrow money to attend university, perhaps an alternative is a good community college, especially if there is one nearby AND you can continue to have excellent dance instruction.
I understand that you will have to live at home for the next two years, but (believe me, trust me) this will be totally worth it in the long term. THEN, reapply to the institution where you can obtain your degree, and it may be that, with good grades during your community college years and additional years of dance instruction, you will obtain a scholarship for the next two years. You can also use the two years going to community college to work and save money for the final two years.
In addition to saving money, attending community college will force you into completing all of your basic requirements for your degree program, and allow you easy access to excellent professors, many of whom teach at traditional four-year institutions close to you.
(Just a word of caution: These professors may be writing your recommendations for your transfer application, so try to obtain the best grades possible and be engaged in your classwork.)
Photo Credit: Baim Hanif
Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates from our team:
Get on the Role Call Newsletter below and, as a bonus, you'll receive the 8 Essential Factors in a College Dance Application.