Community college: the smart way to go

October 11, 2016 — by Leena Elzeiny

Any University of California school costs about $30,000 per year with room and board. And that cost is an insignificant mosquito compared to the elephant price of Ivy League schools. Most people accept that they can pay $200,000 to their dream Ivy Leagues by the end of their undergraduate term, as reported by College Tuition Compare.

Yet a majority U.S. citizens can’t afford these costs. According to the Social Security Administration, the average annual full-time wage is about $50,000. That means four years of a 40-hour work week at $25 per hour is required to pay for an undergraduate degree. And good luck paying for a graduate degree, because that can be the same price.

So here’s a secret: There is a way to escape the financial pressures that come with paying off student loans. It’s called community college.

No, community college is not for the academically challenged. Helicopter moms are wrong when they say it’s the path for lazy people and future McDonald’s employees. It’s a tool for those who are financially responsible.

Think of it this way: Why pay $60,000 for the first two years at a UC, when you can finish all your meaningless credits, General Education requirements, for $3,300 a year at a community college?

At community college, students do this before transferring to a UC, where the same classes cost much more. These requirements have almost no relation to their major but are necessary nonetheless.

Community college is a fresh start that considers almost nothing from your high school career. So any test math test you failed during your junior year because you were studying for AP Biology is gone. Any white hairs over your AP U.S. History grade can fill in. And that king among standardized tests? Not even the SAT is necessary, because none of those tests count. Only your credits transfer with you.

Not enough? Get this: According to University of California Admissions, UC Berkeley's general admission rate is around 17 percent. However, as a transfer student, that number jumps to 24 percent.

That means that almost one transfer student is accepted out of every four — and that is a common trend across the board, not just at Berkeley.

And if these acceptance rates aren’t enough, community colleges have Transfer Admission Guarantee  programs, which ensure you a spot in one of the colleges in the programs, such as UC Irvine and UC Davis, as long as you fill out paperwork and finish their prerequisites with the minimum GPA, which varies from 2.9 to 3.4 depending on the major.

So if you are crying over your life, your GPA, your failures or simply the cost of college, just breathe and remember that the California community college system has got your back.