“Seniors, It’s That Time Of The Year”

Madeeha Naqvi, Reporter and Design Editor

As the college decisions process rolls around, the senior class of 2023 has one question on their mind: “what college do I attend?” Also known as one of the most important decisions to be made in high school, the college decision journey can sometimes be mind-boggling. To make a decision, having a fundamental understanding of community and state colleges is crucial.

Community colleges:

Also known as ‘junior college’, community colleges provide two-year associate degrees in Science or Arts and limited four-year degrees. According to the National Association of Scholars, Joliet Junior College was the first community college founded in 1901 upon signing of the Morrill Act of 1862. This act stemmed from Land Grant colleges and was subsequently followed by a Second Morrill Act in 1890, availing post-secondary education to African Americans. The objective of the act was to provide accessible education to not only undergraduate students but anyone eager to learn.
“I believe that being able to transfer to a four year university after earning an associate’s degree is really beneficial,” senior Shawn Hudson said.
The ‘2+2 model’ allows students to earn a bachelor’s degree by attending two years of community college followed by a transfer to a state college for another two years. If and when accepted to a state college, a student’s credits are transferred via the ‘Articulation Agreement’ transfer policy, while being considered graduates of the state college that they transferred to.
As such, a student who transfers to a state college after two years in a community college would end with a degree from their respective state college. Upon transferring, students end up saving themselves thousands of dollars by attending community over state college, which is not only beneficial to the student but also their families.
“Some students need family support to be successful and feel more secure while other students view it as a deterrent since they want to start on their own away from home,” school counselor Kimberly Pond said.
Community colleges are closer to home, which means one thing: students wouldn’t have to say the dreadful goodbyes to their family. Although arguably an integral part of adulthood, being stripped away of one’s family right out of high school is often heart-wrenching. Since community colleges are quite literally community based, attending one doesn’t require extensive commute. Hence, community colleges, as Hudson puts it, are optimal for “family oriented-individuals.”

State colleges:

State colleges, as the name suggests, are those funded and regulated by the state government.
According to AASCU, the 10th amendment, which was passed by the Congress in 1789, granted states the right to regulate all affairs pertaining to education. The establishment of the University of Georgia in 1785 spurred the onset of state colleges in the United States. Fast forward a couple hundred years, according to an NCES report, the United States was a host to 1,625 state colleges in 2020.

“Since I want to go into the medical profession, which is quite connection-based, state colleges will really help me branch out,” said Briar Woods High School senior Jana Wade.
As state colleges consist of a sizable student body, it allows students to network with peers in their field. Networking builds one’s confidence, develops a cohesive social network, and yields professional profitability. For instance, a friend from college, who is in the same field as you, could refer you for a job opening and land you your dream job! Not only do state colleges assist in extending one’s social circle in their state, but also reduce costs for residents.
“The concept of in-state residency is advantageous and incentivizes students to attend college,” said Natalie Havens, a college and career counselor from Spanish River High School, Florida.
For student residents, state colleges have lower in-state tuition. A non-resident of a state could have to pay thousands, and sometimes, tens of thousands dollars more than a resident. According to the College Board, the average difference between in and out of state tuition is a colossal $16,820. Every state has different laws and requisites determined by the state legislature to qualify for in-state tuition. Usually, a student and at least one parent or guardian is required to reside in a state for a certain duration, mostly anywhere between 6-12 months. Virginia, for instance, requires residency for 6 months whereas Massachusetts requires 12 months to qualify.
The college decision process is a rather stressful undertaking. To relieve some pressure off the seniors, Wade states “it’s important to address that college is a part of our lives, not the entirety of it.”