When I was accepted to Texas A&M College Station’s Blinn TEAM program, I was, to say the least, a little disheartened. The program enables you to take core classes both on campus at A&M and at a local community college, before transferring into your preferred major. Being a dual credit student in high school, taking more community college classes was nothing new to me, and not at all exciting. However, as time passed, I began to be grateful for this experience.
One advantage of taking classes at community colleges is financial. You save hundreds- if not thousands of dollars- by taking common core classes at your local community college. Think $150 for class, compared to $1,500. For those new to college, the ‘core curriculum’ consists of basic classes that all students, regardless of their major, are required to take (such as history, political science, and basic science classes). As community colleges are funded by local taxpayer’s money, the rate for classes is a lot lower than state universities. Let’s take the community college in Tarrant County as an example. As of 2017¹, if you are a county resident of Tarrant County, one credit hour will cost you $59. If you are a Texas resident but not from Tarrant County, one credit hour will cost you $106. If you’re from another state, you’ll pay $255. So, the best deal you get for a 3-hour class would be around $177. Not bad!
Another typical trait of community college classes is the class sizes. Take a United States history class, for example. At A&M, my class size was 100+. At a community college, the class size would easily be about 30. So, if you’re a keen student who really wants to engage in your class and learn, it’s a lot easier to achieve that in a class where your professor actually knows your name. Typically, at large universities, the professors teaching the core classes tend to be more interested in research than teaching basic material to students who are just in their class because they are required to be there (imagine a math-hating English major taking a required basic math class). Professors at the community colleges, however, are normally more engaging and enthusiastic in their teaching, as they don’t focus much on research.
So, how can a college student lower the overall cost of higher education? I’d say, ‘hands down’, community colleges. I’m sure we’ve all heard of the “student loan” phobia. Well, it’s true. Graduating from college with loans can be overwhelming especially when you’re pumped to fulfill the dreams you’ve been making ever since you were a freshman. So, I invite you to save money now. If you already attend a four-year university, maybe you don’t have time to take classes at two campuses during the regular semesters, but for sure, at least consider ‘knocking out’ classes during the summer or online. If you’ve already completed your core classes, share this information with your freshmen or sophomore college friends!
So, are you ready to save money on your education? The invitation awaits…
This essay was submitted by Eleanor Pfang for FTWCCU’s Cash for Class contest. Eleanor, a Sophomore at Texas A&M University, is a Business major.
*Post has been lightly edited for grammar, spelling, and punctuation.