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Dear Frosh: I wish I took community college classes

Jenna Johnson

Today's advice for college freshmen is from Matt Impink, who graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 2007 and is now an education policy consultant in Indianapolis.

I wish I had known about all of the less-expensive alternatives to the traditional college path.

Matt Impink.jpgIn many ways, I closely followed the traditional path: In high school, I used the US News rankings to begin my college search. Right after graduating, I went straight to college. I am now 25 years old and a graduate of an Ivy League university.

I never considered the idea of attending a community college and transferring to a four-year institution to complete my bachelors degree. So many students spend gobs of money without realizing there are great alternatives. 

I could have simply attended a community college for cheap and then transferred to a top school. Many community colleges have honors programs for students looking to take advantage of the lower costs for their first two years. I would have loved the smaller classes and professors focused on teaching undergraduates.

I loved my experience at Penn and doubt I would trade that in for any amount of savings, but I think I made a very important decision without considering other worthwhile options. Too many students turn their noses up at community colleges because their lack of "prestige" like I did. That is simply uninformed and somewhat elitist.

I'm glad that I enjoyed my traditional college experience because it sure hurts when I have to make that loan payment every month.

What do you wish you had known as a freshman? E-mail me your short essay (less than 300 words) and it might be featured on the blog. Read previous essays here.

Campus Overload is a daily must-read for all college students. Make sure to bookmark http://washingtonpost.com/campus-overload. You can also follow me on Twitter and fan Campus Overload on Facebook.

By Jenna Johnson  |  September 8, 2010; 10:57 AM ET
Categories:  College 101  | Tags: Dear Frosh, Penn  
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Next: Dear Frosh: I wish I expanded my social circle

Comments

I hear this a lot...save money, go to community college and then transfer. But in my experience, the classes at community college are simply not at the same level as those at a traditional four-year university.

I have a degree from a traditional four college. In the past few years, I've taken a few classes at community college to help me with a career change. The classes at the community college were nowhere near as rigorous or in-depth as the ones at the four-year university.

I think that if I had taken a year or two at community college and then tranferred, I would not have been prepared for the 300-level classes at the university.

These stories are always written by someone who thinks it's a great idea but hasn't actually done it. And it seemes to be politically incorrect to say that community colleges aren't as good as real universities. But I'd like to hear from someone who has actually done this. Were you ready for the more difficult classes at the university?

Posted by: lalalu1 | September 8, 2010 4:57 PM | Report abuse

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