Students save money, gain experience at community colleges

By Alan Leyva

High school seniors should opt to attend a community college rather than immediately attend a four-year university. 

While many students opt for the universities rather than community colleges, community colleges offer a more cost-effective alternative for incoming freshmen. 

East Los Angeles College is  one of nine community colleges in the Los Angeles Community College District. It offers various benefits for those who look to attend a community college before transferring to a four-year university institution. 

One of the biggest benefits of attending a community college is  the cost. According to the Education Data Inivitive overall fees for a university is $35,551. Tuition at a local community college like ELAC, is more affordable by a significant margin with tuition costing $46 per unit for California residents. 

“The cost was a huge [factor] in my decision to attend a community college over a university; it was more affordable for me and my family,” a freshman at ELAC, Cesar Ayala.

This more economic price allows students to save money and avoid taking out large student loans. These loans often leave students with debt that takes years to pay.

 “It was the better choice for me and my family (community college), it’s very affordable and so far my classes have been great,” another freshman from ELAC, Eddie Hernandez.

Community colleges have supportive, tight-knit environments set in place. For example, ELAC offers smaller class sizes in comparison to those in major universities. Smaller classes allow students to get more attention from professors and to have an intimate experience that’s hard to get at larger institutions. 

Community colleges also have a greater focus on teaching rather than research, which leads to a better learning experience. 

Another advantage of attending a community college as opposed to a four-year university, is the ability for students to branch out to different academic paths with over 70 majors and programs, including transfer degrees, career and technical education programs and certification programs. These options provide students with an array of choices to explore to ultimately find their proper path.

ELAC also hosts a variety of clubs, organizations and activities that allow students to participate in an enriching campus life. These clubs and organizations allow students to meet peers, build relationships, develop new skills and pursue new and current passions. 

Attending a community college can lead to a smooth transition to a four-year institution. Community colleges often have transfer agreements set with universities making the process easier for outgoing students. ELAC has transfer agreements with many universities, including the University of California and California State University systems.

Community college is a more affordable, supportive and flexible path for incoming freshmen. With these benefits, students can pursue their educational goals while also taking care of other responsibilities and discovering their passions and interests. 

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