Earth to Mars

Community College: The Great Stepping Stone

Before getting into the nitty gritty of the article I want to stress that we at Earth to Mars recognize the frustrations many people rightfully have with Colleges in the US. From continuously lowering standards, oversized classrooms, questionable content being taught, and many more problems. Unfortunately, as it stands right now and will likely be for a while, they are still a necessary evil.

The first and foremost advantage of enrolling in Community College is cost savings. With the ever increasing cost of tuition and ensuing student loan debt this cannot be understated. The cost is on average half that of four year colleges per year. With the average cost per year of Community College being about $4k per year or $130 per credit hour versus about $11k per year or $366 per credit hour. This savings is the equivalent of skipping an entire year at a four year college on tuition alone. If you include the fact that most Community Colleges are local which allows you to commute from home or offer courses online saving additional rent or dorm costs the savings are even higher. 

If you have enrolled in Community College with the intention of continuing on to a four year university it is important to know which classes transfer and which do not. Some states participate in a “2+2 Program” which guarantees admission to participating four year Colleges if you meet the stated academic requirements. The requirements are usually to have completed your Associate’s in an accepted degree and to have met a minimum GPA requirement. (Earth to Mars’s resources are currently geared to the most general degree the Associate’s of Science.) If your state does not participate in such a program all four year colleges do have lists of community college to college transfer equivalents. These equivalents can be found by searching for “[four year] courses and transferable [community college] equivalents”. Even with the “2+2 Program” knowing the transfer equivalents is important because some courses only transfer if both part of a course have been taken. This is almost always true for the Lab Sciences. Other times a course will transfer as something else entirely or not at all. 

Community College is also a good option for people wishing to pursue trades. They typically offer certificates and degrees in trades over a large range. From carpentry, machining, welding, electrician, HVAC, plumbing among many other. The teachers for these programs usually have connections to local employers and are very useful for finding local employment in the pursued trades. For homeschoolers these trade and hands on programs can be used as their VOTEC and shop class equivalent. 

To best take advantage of Community Colleges it is important to start as soon as possible. Thanks to the Age Discrimination Act of 1975 you may enroll at any age if you pass the placement test. We recommend replacing the bulk of High School with Community College and trying to start around 14. Most homeschooled children are typically more than capable of this. This also has the advantage of allowing teenagers to take on more responsibility and grow their independence.  This spreads out the cost of going over a longer amount of time while at the same time allowing them to get a massive head start on finishing their Bachelors.