It is late-April and many of you are rapidly preparing for high school graduation. With graduation comes both joy and possibly uncertainty. I can only imagine how excited you are to share this special moment with family, but you are also faced with the inevitable questions, from that SAME family, about what is next for you in life?
Around graduation time each year, I always advise students to read one my favorite Dr. Seuss’ classics, Oh, the Places You’ll Go, where he reminds us, “You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the one who’ll decide where to go.” Of all the possible places that you could go, I would encourage you to consider your local community college. Arkansas State University – Newport, with three campuses and online options, is a community college that is here to meet your academic needs! There are many great benefits to community colleges that you should consider.
First of all, it is the most cost-effective option to start your education. Across the country, the cost of tuition has been on the rise in the past decade, especially at most universities. Despite this rate of increase, the cost of tuition at most community colleges still runs about half of what it costs for a 4-year university. So for the first two years, you could save thousands of dollars and lower or completely eliminate the need for loans, all the while getting a quality education at a fraction of the cost. You could also save money by living at home, instead of an apartment or dormitory, which could easily cost several thousand dollars per year. For most students at ASUN, financial aid will completely cover your costs for tuition, fees, and books.
Complete Your Basics
Secondly, you have the opportunity to complete your basics close to home. Your general education courses in the State of Arkansas are transferrable to any public college or university. This means that the core courses that you take at ASU – Newport will transfer to any other Arkansas public institution, including 4-year colleges and universities. You can visit the Arkansas Course Transfer System at http://acts.adhe.edu/default.aspx to review what courses transfer between which institutions and to ease your mind about the courses that you will take at ASU-Newport.
You also have the chance to learn in an environment where teaching is the primary focus for our faculty, and you will not be a number in your classroom. Community college faculty focus primarily on teaching and student learning. In most universities, faculty divide their time between teaching, researching, and publishing. Although some community college faculty do some of the same activities, the primary focus will always be on YOU, the learner, and assisting in your success and completion. A large way that this is accomplished is through smaller classrooms. The average student to teacher ratio for ASUN is about 16:1, which means that your class will be small enough for your faculty to know you by name and provide an atmosphere for you to easily ask questions and interact with your instructors and classmates both inside and outside the classroom.
Shorter Program Options
Lastly, you have options! Perhaps, you are the student that I talked about who wants to “get your basics” and then transfer to complete your bachelor’s degree. But you might also be the type of student who wants a quicker option to specialize in a field and enter the workforce in 6 months, one year, or two years. At ASUN, you can complete technical certificates, certificates of proficiency, or associates degrees that will allow you to meet workforce demands and earn high wage employment to support your family earlier than the four year option. Additionally, ASUN maintains close working relationships with area employers which assists graduates in locating and securing gainful employment after completing their program of studies.
As you embark on your next stage of life, I encourage you to strongly consider what all ASUN has to offer you. Community College might not be the path for everyone, but if there is any advice that I can give you as you consider the next “places you’ll go”, it would be to check out your local community college. Check out ASUN! Call us, drop by, or schedule a campus visit. We are right around the corner, waiting to serve you.
About the Author
Jacqueline Faulkner is the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs at Arkansas State University – Newport. She resides in Newport with her husband Cedric Orr and her toddler son, Cedric Orr II.