Community College First!

by Ty Carson
(Bay City, Michigan, United States)

College Tour - Applying to Colleges

College Tour - Applying to Colleges

In my experience with Financial Aid, there are five things that I would recommend a student do while at college. Those five things are go to a community college first, work at the college, join groups if possible, avoid buying things at the bookstore, and create great relationships with your teachers.


I hope that my experience will help students save time, save money, and enter into a career that they will be proud of and can enjoy for the rest of their lives.

When I first started college, I didn’t go to a Community College first; I went to a University. It was a very lonely time. I was a commuter and I just felt disconnected from everyone there. I had a few spare friends that had gone there too, but I barely saw them. It was right out of High School and I just don’t think I was ready for that big of a commitment. I’ve talked with a few friends and they’ve told me that being a commuter to a university and living on campus are two very different things. Other people could have better experiences, but this was just my own. I ended up getting kicked out for poor academic performance.

Now, I am at a much happier place. After the University, I took a year off to figure out what I was going to do. My friend’s suggested a local community college and I applied. Instantly, I felt more productive, but I still didn’t know what I wanted to do. Community College was great for this because they allowed me to take my time to try out different degrees. It wasn’t costing anyone anything thanks to my Pell Grant, so why not? I jumped from Pyschology, to Business, to Management, to Legal Support Professional, and finally landed on Graphic Design, even though it was staring me in the face.

I kind of just fell into Graphic Design. I’m not sure how I found out about it but I know it’s where my heart was this whole time. I had always loved playing around with Adobe Photoshop Elements 4.0 and creating fan art for bands that I liked. My friends and family have always encouraged me that this is what I should do with my life. However, I think that it took the experiences at the University and the Community College to gain confidence in my skills as a Graphic Designer.

These classes eventually led to becoming good friends with my teacher and supervisor Michael Glowacki. Mike has inspired me to no end and helped me get a job at the Community College as a Graphic Design Lab Assistant. I strongly recommend creating great relationships with your teachers because not only can they give you recommendation letters, but it’s also inspiring and he drives me to be a better Graphic Designer every day. Being a Graphic Design Lab Assistant has taught me how to communicate with fellow students about their work and my own, while also thoroughly re-teaching me and testing me about the Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, & MAC OS programs. The work can also be used as a stepping stone for your resume, while also helping you pay for books, supplies, gas, etc.

Since we’re talking about experience for resumes, I’d also suggest joining groups if your schedule can allow it. My schedule was too busy at the Community College so I’m trying to join in more groups at the University that I’m going to in the fall for Graphic Design. However, groups can help you network, gain even more experience, and make you feel more connected to your fellow students. They also show that you are involved that you care about the people in your community.

One final thing, only buy at the bookstore for convenience of if you must buy supplies from there because they aren’t available anywhere else. Don’t avoid it completely, but the prices for some things in them are outrageous! Buy the things you absolutely need there and then go shopping for school supplies at places like Walmart. Good luck! Going to a community college made me much more confident and now I am attempting to go to a University again. I strongly suggest you do the same simply because it’s cheaper, you can take your time in choosing your degree, and you can create relationships while doing so. Remember to do what you love at all costs.

Read more College Financial Aid Tips from other students and parents who have been through process.


Comment from your friendly team at College Financial Aid Advice

Thank you Ty for sharing your story. The decision to go to a private college, public university or community college is an important one, and sometimes it is not just about cost. The instructors at a community college are there to teach and will often provide more quality instruction. Best of luck to you.



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Community College versus University

by Kenneth Buckner
(Knoxville TN USA)

This is why it is better to go to a community college for at least one to two years instead of going to a university to start out with. First the tuition is a lot lower than a university the fees and costs of books are so much lower and the lines are not that bad. The community college I graduated from was nice and the people their helped you a lot with any aid you did not get through the government.

Next I would say is the class size is so different in most of my classes had about twelve to fifteen people in each class and the teacher would talk to each one of us when we raised our hands or depending on the teacher just start talking out loud during a lecture. It was not a place to get weeded out of or thrown to the dogs like the first two years at a university usually are.

Some people would disagree with me about the fact a community college is better to start out with because I would get told that the class work and teacher are not of the same level as what it is in a university but that is not always true. Most of my teachers had a Masters in the field they were teaching in. Just like university it depends on where you go and what type of teachers that you have. For the rest of the fees like boarding, food, and other various things a community college allows you to have some extra money to live on till you can get into a better and cheaper place and also get used to the area you are living in. Most student like this feature about community colleges.

Read more College Tuition Tips from other students and parents who have been through process.



Comment from your friendly team at College Financial Aid Advice

Thank you Kenneth for sharing your story Community College versus University. There are many excellent instructors at community colleges, and with the smaller class sizes compared to most universities, it is easier to get personal attention. Community college allows you to save money and of course students should always submit a FAFSA or Free Application for Federal Student Aid to apply for financial aid for college, including scholarships, grants, work-study and federal loans.

Good luck to you.



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The Hidden Lessons of Independence

When I graduated high school, the only thing on my mind was leaving home and going to college. My friends and I scored big with finding a reasonably priced condo. We were on our own. Well, only I was on my own. All my friends had a paid ride through college. I had to 100% support myself.

I don't qualify for FAFSA because of my parents, but they are raising 4 children. They are both state workers, one a teacher, and they have not had raises due to the economy in the past 5 years. At first I was envious of my friends. They had lots of time to hang out with friends and enjoy their new independence.

My envy began to lessen has I began learning lessons from my situation. Many of my friends dropped out, received poor grades, or moved back home during their first year. I am the only one remaining of our initial group to leave from college together. I had to mature into a man quickly. No one paved the road for me. I am ready for life's challenges because I have to work hard for my goal to complete college without lots of loans. I completed my first two years at the community college under the university plan. This was affordable. I work about 30 hours a week and take up to 17 credit hours. This has not been easy, but it was critical for me to learn how to manage my time, be dedicated to my future and not only focus on the present.

I am now moving into the University. I have joined the US Air Force ROTC. Although this is added responsibility, it is one that I am committed to. I was accepted into a field training program that allows me to earn some money in the summer that I can apply to school, but the real gift will be my future of serving my country and assisting people in the health profession.

I will continue to work, but I seek scholarships to assist so I don't have to exit college with a large monthly payment on the salary of the military. I know I will have to take out some loans, but I have tried to hold out as long as possible. I have learned how important it was to find a community college that has a partnership with the local university. I began at the community college with a university advisor. I was a university student paying community college prices. This plan has allowed me to finish 2 years debt free. Now I focus on the next two years. From a boy to a man, it is amazing how 2 independent years can change a life.

Read more College Financial Aid Tips from other students and parents who have been through process.



Comment from your friendly team at College Financial Aid Advice

Thank you for sharing the value of a community college education, especially in partnership with a university, and also the hidden lessons of independence. Best of luck to you. You’ve already made some very good choices.

Join in and write your own page! It's easy to do. How? Simply click here to return to Compare College Tuition.


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