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Hometown Community College Vs. Beachside Community College?

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I am having a moral dilemma with my son and we both agreed we would have you be the voice of reason here. His first-choice college is a state university located in a beach town in our state. He doesn't want to apply to any other four-year safety schools and says if he doesn't get into the first-choice school, he'll go to community college and try to transfer into that school later. That's fine with me. The part I don't understand is that he doesn't plan to go to our local community college. He wants to go to the community college located in this same beach town where the four-year school is. I said "why would I pay $750 rent for you to go to community college?" He pointed to about 10 other kids who are doing the same thing (from last year's graduating class). I asked around my neighborhood and sure enough, this is getting pretty common around here. My question is: If he goes to that community college, does he have a better chance of getting into the four-year school later? Otherwise, I see no benefit to this other than him getting to party at the beach.


"The Dean" has often said that one of the most important parts of going to college can be the "going" itself. So I do understand the value of your son attending a community college away from home. BUT ... I am a mother myself, so I share your reservations about your son's current plan.

If he isn't a strong enough student to feel certain of his acceptance at the four-year beach-town university, then I have to wonder if his relocation to this beach town to enroll in a two-year school will bring with it such temptation to party, as you suggest, that he won't compile an academic record that is good enough to enable acceptance at the four-year university when the time comes.

Attending a two-year college in the beach town will not improve your son's chances of acceptance at the four-year school. But all public community colleges in your state will have "Articulation Agreements." These agreements guarantee (or at least facilitate) transferring from the community college to participating four-year universities for students who have met certain criteria at the community college. (These criteria typically include a minimum GPA; the completion of certain specified classes; and often the completion of additional classes that are prerequisites for the student's intended major.)

So, whether your son goes to Beach Town CC or Home Town CC, it is likely that both will have identical Articulation Agreements with Beach Town U., and he will have to follow the same route and achieve the same benchmarks in order to transfer there.

Thus, if your son were my son, I might be willing to give a conditional green light to enroll at Beach Town CC, but first, you need to ...

  • Look online to confirm that Beach Town CC does have an Articulation Agreement with Beach Town University and check to see what criteria it includes. If your son doesn't find the information he is seeking online, he can email a transfer counselor at the CC to ask.
  • Explain to your son that if, after his freshman year, he is not on track to meet the requirements of the Articulation Agreement, he can no longer attend Beach Town CC. Depending on your son and on your relationship with him, you might want to put this arrangement in writing. (Presumably you will still be holding purse strings and can rescind funding if your son doesn't meet his part of the deal.)
  • Discuss with your son a reasonable amount of money that he must earn himself during this school year or over the summer to contribute to his Beach Town room and board. (This is also something that you might want to put in writing.)
  • Require your son to apply to at least ONE additional four-year university and make it a place that will be "Safe" for him. Even if he is dead-set on only Beach Town U, it's just November now. He might change his mind by April and be delighted to have a four-year option, if Beach Town U. says no.

A growing number of families are finding that starting out with two years at a community college can be a good way for students to test the waters of college life while saving some significant dough. And, although living away from home during those two years will make a dent in these savings, it can often provide additional learning experiences.

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