Worried about the stigma of community colleges and other things?

I know it’s probably stupid to worry about these things as a high school senior, but I don’t know colleges any more than my family does, so we’re just rolling with whatever our family-friends are doing: taking all the APs I can, applying to a bunch of different colleges in-state, trying to get the best SAT score I can (currently sitting at a 1400), etcetera.

Here’s the thing though, I still worry about things my parents think shouldn’t be a problem for us. Namely the finances. I do not want to be crippled with debt, but I know if I bring up the idea of community college, my dad will find it absolutely blasphemous, and my mother is completely clueless about the college admissions process. I also worry about the stigma that CCs get: they’re not as quality as a four-year, they’re for the idiots who couldn’t pull their ____ together in high school, you’re too smart for that, you won’t get a degree from a CC, the real college experience is at a REAL college, etcetera.

I got accepted into a private university in Dallas, but I’m worried that the finances combined with my own indecisiveness will be my own downfall. Can someone reassure me that this won’t be the case? Am I thinking rationally? Should I just tell him even though we’re this far into the admissions process?

The only stigma to Community Colleges is places where high school seniors pat themselves on the back for being too smart to attend a CC… for not being “idiots who couldn’t get their ___ together in high school.”

The reality is that 2 years at a CC will get your Gen Ed requirements out of the way at a fraction of the cost of the school that will eventually grand you your Bachelor’s. Many of the faculty at our local CC also teach part time at the University a few blocks away.

There are two drawbacks I can see to going to CC:

  1. A lot of financial aid goes to people freshman year and follows them. The pool for transfers two years from now won’t be nearly as large. Then again,think of the big picture-- all the money you’ll save over the next 2 years.
  1. As a Junior transfer, you would be entering a new school where most of the kids have already found their way and have their friend groups.

If you can put up with those issues, you may want to consider the honors program at your local CC. Reason #2 is the one that’s keeping my daughter from attending a CC… she wants to go to one school and stay there for 4 years.

With lots of AP and a 1400 sat, you should be able to get merit scholarships at a 4- year college (and you’d forfeit them if you go to a CC first). It doesn’t have to be a private college - apply widely after running the NPC. Calculate what would be best for you and cheapest. Depending on your situation cc may be good… or not.

So should OP take a gap year to prepare a better list?


i’m a big fan of community college. however, in your case it might be a better idea to monetize your 1400 SAT into good freshman merit scholarship. for example, it looks like you would get a full-tuition scholarship to UAH:

so this could be a low-cost option that will give you great flexibility – you could choose to stay for all 4 years and graduate with minimal debt; or you could do two low-cost years at UAH, transfer and finish your final two years somewhere else.

either way, i don’t know if i would go community college in your case since you would lose your chance at a freshman merit scholarship. choosing community college for two years would likely cost you more than just doing 4 years on a big merit scholarship.

OP: You & your parents are correct in your thinking.

It looks to me like a gap year is worth considering.

@AsadFarooqui - Go to the Financial Aid Forum and read through the thread on Automatic Scholarships at the top of that forum. If you qualify for any of them, even if the application date has passed, contact them and ask if you can still get in with that scholarship. If it is too late, think about taking a gap year and applying for fall 2019.

About finances - you can’t borrow more than the federal student loans on your own. Anything more than that your parents need to borrow, or they need to co-sign a private loan with you.

About CCs - the stone, cold truth is that nationwide, more college-age students are at their local CCs or commuting distance colleges and universities than at “sleep away” colleges. Of that group, by far the largest number attends a CC. Most make that choice for financial reasons, some for social or family reasons, and, yes, some because their grades and test scores are so bad they can’t get in anywhere else. A perhaps surprising-to-your-pals number make that choice for specific academic reasons. Students who keep their eyes on the prize, and who don’t suffer unexpected financial calamities, do indeed transfer after one or two years, and do indeed graduate at rates not unlike their peers who started out at four year institutions.

Not to mention of course, the fair number of flunk-out, drop-out, ran-out-of-money-out students who leave their four years institutions and land at a CC for a while. Your pals who are wise-talking about the CC being no good, could very well be there come next January.


SMU is $70K / year. are you getting any scholarships / financial aid? can you and your family afford that?

did you apply to UT Dallas?

@Wien2NC I got scholarships to both the main campus and the Dedman College. I forgot how much though.

Dedman College is on the SMU main campus… SMU is a great school but it will still be very expensive and you should make sure going there is what you want to do. Have you visited campus? Is it a place you can be happy and has a degree program you are looking for? With your SAT score, there must be other options besides community college if you applied to a “bunch of other in-state schools”? Any of the other UT campuses? UT-Dallas? UT-Arlington?

Get out all of your acceptance letters and financial aid offers, and run the numbers here: http://www.finaid.org/calculators/awardletter.phtml