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Why Community College Is a Smart Move

What kind of parent uses the prospect of attending community college to strike fear in the heart of her unmotivated teen?

It's the same parent who, on witnessing a lack ambition in her offspring, is not willing to shell out big bucks for him to attend a private or state university in the hopes that he finds himself somewhere between the Anthropology 101 lecture hall and the dormitory’s food court.

Or, perhaps this parent isn’t concerned about the finances at all. Maybe she's concerned with the child’s solvency or the lack thereof post-graduation when he'll be saddled with tens of thousands of dollars worth of student debt.

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Whatever the reason, be advised that the potency of your threat is only as strong as your local community college is lame. And ours isn’t. In fact, it’s turning into the après high school hot spot.

Across the country, community college enrollment has boomed since The Great Recession and, despite the rumored recovery, there’s no sign of this trend letting up anytime soon.

Greater enrollment equates to more money in the school’s coffers. If it’s reinvested back into the school via new state-of-the-art facilities and more cutting-edge academic offerings, the campus can draw more renowned faculty, which would in turn gain the attention of more traditional institutions willing to accept transfer credits.

From this parent’s perspective, the advantages are many.

Such is that case at our local community college. Once a haven for drop-outs working on GED credits and housewives looking to pick up skills so they could reenter the job market after their kids had grown, it’s now bursting with students looking to get their general studies classes out of the way before attending a big ticket school—and at a fraction of the cost. It’s also home to a world class restaurant that doubles as a training ground for students in their culinary arts program, and its fine arts offerings are showcased in a brand new theatre that draws top-name performers year-round.

From this parent’s perspective, the advantages are many. My son can live at home while he attends classes and firms up his life’s plan. If he’s able to snag a job as well, all the better. Best of all, he’d have an additional year to search for his “dream school,” which he’ll be able to attend with a greater sense of focus and drive.

Genius, right?

Well, from my son’s perspective, the advantages are nonexistent. All of his friends are planning to go away to school. Therefore, living at home after high school holds as much appeal as taking synchronized swimming lessons and, according to him, there’s no focus to be found delivering pizzas or bagging groceries.

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We’ll see. His report card should be coming in the mail any day now. If his grade point average is not high enough to garner much in the way of scholarship assistance, perhaps his view of community college will brighten.

In any event, I’m relishing the possibility of having a few more years with him here at home. Maybe I should mention I’d be willing to do his laundry. And, unlike a residence hall washing machine, it won’t cost him a cent.

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