Posted on Wednesday, May 20, 2015
TCC grads


Two frequently asked questions this time of year are “What are your plans after you graduate?” and “What college are you attending next year?” If you know a soon-to-be high school graduate, chances are you have asked these questions (maybe even for a few years now). 

And while we celebrate the acceptances to in-state and out-of-state schools, we also applaud the students who are choosing another path without taking on the possibility of big loans and debt.

If you are like many, it has been ingrained in you since childhood that if you work hard and study, a four year college is where you will end up (including many who start at a community college). While many see college as a unique experience and rite of passage that is not to be passed up, in today’s job market, there are reasons to consider other paths to a successful future.

In a recent editorial, “Watson: A letter to students and parents about college and careers”, Michael B. Watson, New River Community College graduate and president of Control Automation Technologies Corporation, urges parents to consider the return-on-investment of community college versus a traditional four-year institution.

Watson debunks the myth that community colleges are for individuals who can’t get into a university.

“You’ll hear ‘not everyone is cut out for a four-year school,’ yet many community college students are cut out for anything they want and choose to pursue an education that provides a marketable skill. That’s what I did, earning an associate degree in Instrumentation Technology from New River Community College. It is not something I settled on; it’s exactly what I wanted.”

According to Watson, there are four main reasons to consider community college:

  1. Little to no debt
  2. You hit the job market sooner
  3. You’ll oftentimes have a higher starting salary
  4. You are less likely to move back to your old bedroom four years later

It’s no secret that the United States has the best colleges and universities in the world. But all things considered, community college may be the best option for many. As Watson writes, “As a dad, I urge students to consider what you enjoy first, identify a related career next, then with a debt-free degree and good-paying job you’ll go to any game wearing whichever color you wish.”

Check out Virginia’s Community Colleges online today.

Photo:  Graduates at commencement ceremonies this month at Tidewater Community College.'

Amanda Christopher

Amanda Christopher is a graduate of Hollins University and Virginia Commonwealth University. A native of the DC metro area, Amanda worked in public relations for the American Red Cross before joining the Virginia Community College System as the Workforce Communications Coordinator.

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