Often when we think of going to college, the first images that come to mind are moving into a dorm, full lecture halls, sports events, and graduates tossing mortarboards in the air. However, for many aspiring college students, college has become prohibitively expensive. The average cost for a four-year college or university is more than $35,000 per year (around $54,000 for a private college); the average student debt is more than $37,000 ($55,000 for a private institution). So how can high school seniors go to college, or adult learners upskill or reskill, affordably and effectively? For more and more students, the answer is community college.
In this Article
Who Should Go to Community College
Here are a few reasons why going to community college is the right move.
- Community college is where students can get an associate’s degree (and even a bachelor’s degree!) and then transfer to a four-year school, reducing their financial costs.
- Community college is where students can learn a trade or earn certificates to rack up their skills.
- Community college is where military veterans can build on their service and train for a new career or in a new discipline.
- Community college is where adult learners go back to school and get training that will fast track them to a new in-demand career.
The fact is, community colleges offer the same high-value, exciting, and challenging programs as a four-year college at affordable tuition rates. They feature smaller class sizes, community resources, and academic advising to make sure students are successful.
Want to learn more? Explore academic and workforce programs and discover your path at ACC.
Should I Go to College?
If you felt like you lost interest in school during the COVID pandemic, you’re not alone. College admissions plummeted in 2020 and 2021, and many high schoolers opted to go into the workforce. It makes sense that prospective students are wary of going to college and potentially taking on a lot of debt to pay for a degree.
How do you know if college is right for you? How do you choose between a college or trade school? What if you don’t have a major? These are the questions many people ask. Whether you choose an academic path or job training, community college can be an affordable first step on your journey.
Community College and Academics
Community colleges offer associate degrees in academics that transfer to a four-year school. At Austin Community College, programs fall into 10 areas of study. Students who choose an academic area of study will follow a program map that includes required classes, core classes, and electives. For example:
Pre-Med Associate’s Degree
A student who wants to become a doctor can start at ACC with a general studies in pre-health sciences major. This foundational program lays the groundwork for a pre-med degree and the other health sciences degrees. After earning an associate’s degree in pre-med, students will be ready to complete a bachelor degree at a four-year school, and then med school. Taking this path makes a very expensive education more affordable.
Manufacturing Associate’s Degree
Manufacturing has gone high tech. As a result, students who get a technology degree in manufacturing are well-prepared to succeed in this industry sector. ACC offers three Associate in Applied Science (AAS) degrees: Advanced Manufacturing, Medical Devices Technology, and Automation and Robotics Technology.
Students who aspire to become entrepreneurs, CEOs, or chief marketing officers can start with an associate’s degree in business. This degree is designed to prepare students for transfer to a four-year institution. At many universities, getting into a prestigious business school is competitive. Therefore, starting at a community college is an affordable way to meet your goal – which just makes good business sense.
The mandate of Austin Community College is to prepare a workforce for the most in-demand careers. In Central Texas, that means healthcare, manufacturing, and tech.
Nursing Associate Degrees and Stackable Certificates
Aspiring nurses start with a general studies in pre-health sciences major. They go on to earn an associate of applied science in nursing, which qualifies them to sit for the rigorous NCLEX exam and get their RN. (Fact: ACC’s Nursing Program has one of the highest NCLEX pass rates in Texas). Students can go on to get a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) right here at ACC. The nursing program also has certificates that stack, so students who get an LVN certificate can use those credits as the basis for getting an ADN, then a BSN, and more.
Computer Science and Information Technology
Coding. Cybersecurity. Network management. IT professionals know that they have to keep learning to stay competitive, and ACC is here to help them. ACC has certifications such as Apple SWIFT, Oracle and Cisco certifications, and more. Additionally, students can get an associate’s degree or bachelor’s degrees in software coding, LAN management, and cybersecurity, allowing students in the associate’s degree program go on to get an affordable bachelor of applied science.
ACC offers a number of training programs that are designed to teach people skills and get them working fast. These programs can be completed in as little as 6 weeks to one year, and they are designed to lead to careers in fields in which there will always be demand. As a result, students get into the workforce and start earning money right away.
Want more information about these and other programs? Click request for information and talk to an advisor.
An associate’s degree is just the beginning. For students who want to advance their career in manufacturing, computer science, or nursing, ACC offers four bachelor degree programs that combine career readiness and academic education. These programs build on the work student have accomplished in their associate degree program plans. For a bachelor degree at a fraction of the cost of the average college education, read on:
Bachelor of Applied Technology (BAT) in Manufacturing Engineering Technology. Students who have manufacturing experience and who are getting their associate’s degree now have a path to a bachelor’s degree.
Bachelor of Applied Science (BAS) in Software Development. Students who have or are getting their associate’s degree can take four more semesters for their BAS.
Bachelor of Applied Science (BAS) in Cybersecurity. Students in the cybersecurity track can now get a BAS in cybersecurity, one of the fastest-growing fields in IT.
RN-to-BSN. Nursing students who have achieved their RN can get their Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) in one year, making them eligible for higher paid positions in nursing, healthcare management, and getting advanced nursing degrees.
Community College 101
You have questions? We have answers. Here are the basics about community college.
Is Community College Easy?
Community college is still college. If you’re coming to college right out of high school, you’ll have to study, manage your time, and participate in class. If you’re learning new skills, it’s important to get help from your professors and instructors. The good news is that community college has resources such as our ACCelerators that can provide extra help. As a result, with these resources and smaller classes, odds are you’ll get extra instruction.
Is Community College Affordable?
College is expense, but you can save up to 70% on college costs by going to a community college. Financial aid, grants, and scholarships help defray costs. If you have to take out student loans, talk to an advisor and look at the earning potential of your program to make sure that student debt makes sense.
How Do I Choose a Major?
It’s okay not to know what you want to major in! Advisors can help narrow down options. Exploring areas of study and researching programs and certificates are sure to inspire your choices.
You can start out with general core classes that will transfer to a four-year college, giving you some time to make a decision.
How Do I Transfer Credits?
ACC is set up for students to get their associate’s degree and then transfer to a four-year school. If that’s your goal, you and your advisor will design a degree map so that you take courses that transfer. It’s important to work with an advisor when planning each semester to make sure you maximize your transferable credits. Don’t get sidetracked. And remember, short semesters and summer classes can help you stay on track and even graduate early, so you can move forward with your next step.
Ready to get started? Take a look around, see what sparks interest, and request information for more details.
OK, I’m Ready to Apply to ACC: Now What?
Ready to be a Riverbat?
Everything you need can be found on the New Student Application page. Advisors can help you every step of the way. But here are some additional notes, just to help out.
- Application. ACC uses an open application process. There’s no fee, and everyone who applies is accepted. Acceptance to ACC does not mean acceptance to every program.
- Transcripts. Contact your high school or previous college for your transcripts, which they will send directly to ACC.
- TSI Assessment. The Texas Success Initiative is required of most students; find out if you’re exempt.
- Registration. Once you have met all your requirements, you can register and pay for classes. Your advisor can help you pick the classes you need for your program.
- Scholarships and Financial Aid. As soon as you have your ACC EID and ACC e-mail, you can apply for scholarships. Scholarships can help defray the cost of college, lowering your student loan debt and making it easier for you to focus on your studies.
Ready to go? Hit apply and join ACC.
Start Your Journey at Austin Community College
Is community college right for you? At ACC, our goal is to help you meet yours. From application to graduation, we’re here to help every step of the way. Whether you’re going on to get a bachelor degree or advanced degree, or you are looking at a new career, your path begins at ACC. Explore programs, get more information from our advisors, or apply today. Welcome to ACC. We’re so glad to meet you.
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