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When recommending colleges to students, we would do well to consider the community college as an excellent choice. Having taught my first semester at community college this year, I have been struck with a singular impression of the faculty: they are very dedicated and talented teachers. Though the level of commitment may vary between instructors and sites, I find the chief concern of the faculty at both campuses where I work to be a strong commitment to student learning and achievement. I have met more than one graduate who claims to have had a better educational experience at a community college than they had at the following four year institution where they transferred.

The Chronicle of Higher Education sponsors a website—College Completion—which offers a statistic that may shed some light on why this may be the case for some. “Educational Spending per Completion” estimates “expenses related to instruction, student services, academic support, institutional support, operations and maintenance per academic award in 2010. Includes all certificates and degrees.”

In the Bay Area where I live, here is a sampling of expenditures per pupil who graduates from local colleges:

Cal State University East Bay $45,237
Diablo Valley College $81,135

San Francisco State University $42,284
San Francisco City College $107,631

UC Berkeley $97,934
Berkeley City College $130,000

I will speculate that the difference in expenditure per “completer” may be correlated to class size, which is always small in a community college. Overall, the state average for 2 year institutions is $54,000; for public four year schools, $70,000; for four year private schools, $113,322. Stanford, which is the highest figure I found, spends a whopping $345,440 per student. In any case, the ratio of the cost of attending college to the the cost of educating the student certainly reveals a great bargain at the community college. At the very least, The Chronicle of Higher Education has provided us with a useful tool to help us guide our students to a school that will pay attention to their needs.

By Kaki Logan
Community College English Instructor and Independent College Admissions Advisor