Perks of Community College

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    Jun 25, 2013
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Perks of Community College Photo by Jason White

Although the term community college is not widely used in the Canadian context, it essentially describes educational institutions providing higher education and tertiary education, granting certificates, and diplomas. There are 150 Canadian institutions that could be roughly equivalent of the US community college in certain contexts. They are usually referred to simply as "colleges" since in common usage a degree granting institution is almost exclusively a university.

There are many benefits to attending a community college — especially the first public college in Ontario called Centennial College. Firstly, a community college offers a reduced tuition. The vast majority of universities charge thousands of dollars per semester, and over four years that can up to $50,000 plus. However, because community college programs are shorter in length, students don't pay nearly that much. As such, they can accomplish very similar academic successes at a fraction of the cost. At Centennial College, for example, students also have access to various financial aid programs that will ease the load even more.

Secondly, a community college offers the ability to transfer credits. For example, at Centennial College, there are many programs linked to universities that allow students to use their credentials to skip certain course. These partnerships include universities in the United States and around the world. As such, students can take preparatory core classes at community college and then transfer to a university for extended, more precise coursework.

Thirdly, a community college program is designed to develop vocational skills. As such, you are not wasting time on liberal arts courses that will be of no use to you when you graduate. Instead, you are attending courses directly linked to your field. At Centennial College, this is even reflected in the community college's mission statement, which reads in part: "Our mission is to educate students for career success. We make every decision to support the career and personal development of our learners. Our curriculum, teaching and services demonstrate that we value the diverse profiles of our learners."

A fourth benefit of attending community college is convenience and size. Community colleges are often situated in the hearts of towns or cities, as such they are accessible by public transportation and allow students to live at home and save money. At Centennial College, there are four campuses that cater to specific areas of study: Ashtonbee Campus (transportation), Progress Campus (business and tourism), Centre for Creative Communications and Media (communications and media), and Morningside Campus (health and community studies as well as engineering technology and applied science).

A final community college benefit is the flexibility of its courses. Often, a community college takes into account the busy life of its students and also presents courses in part-time format. At Centennial College, this is achieved either through evening classes on a part-time basis or Distance Learning, which is facilitated entirely online or through print-based courses. In this community college option, experienced instructors understand adult learning needs; offer flexible, learner-centered teaching methodologies; provide practical hands-on knowledge to place relevant theory into context and perspective; and more.

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In this article, Emma focuses on the community college benefits with particular attention paid to Centennial College.

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