Community colleges save students’ coins

By Ke’Aysha Strand-Young

Alondra Avila studies in the courtyard at Marple campus on Sept. 5. Photo by Ke-Aysha Strand-Young.

When she was a senior at Upper Darby High School, Alondra Avila dreamed of attending Temple University.

But financial circumstances brought that dream to a halt.

“My plan coming straight out of high school was to attend a university,” Avila said. “I never thought of community college, but the university tuition was too expensive.

Upon graduating high school in 2018, Avila moved back to Pennsylvania from Ecuador, and enrolled at DCCC.

Avila said she had to start over, as it was difficult readjusting to the American education system after becoming accustomed to the Ecuadorian system.

She also explained how coming back to America so late in the school year made adapting even more challenging, since she didn’t really understand what others were trying to talk to her about.

On top of having to readjust, Avila felt unprepared for college. She was undecided about her major, and she was surprised at the cost of a university, so she chose to enroll at DCCC.

Like Avila, many students choose to attend community college to save money, since the cost of tuition at a university is more expensive and some may be financially or academically unprepared.

According to the College Board, the average in-state tuition at community colleges for 2017 and 2018 was $3,347.

American Honors, an organization that helps students select community colleges throughout the country, reports the national average for annual tuition at a four-year university is $423,000, compared to $9,308 at community college.

The report also found that students entering their first year of college who weren’t academically prepared were required to take prerequisite classes that didn’t count as college credit.

“Attending community college has helped me work more efficiently, socially, and independently.”

– Alondra aVILA

In some cases, students are so far behind they are required take more than one prerequisite class at a time in order to catch up, experts say.

At a four-year institution, this could cost up to $10,000, but community college provides students with a more affordable opportunity to take prerequisite classes.

In addition to being affordable, community college also gives students time to work at their own pace and figure out their goals and endeavors, community college advocates believe.

Enrolling at a university unprepared plays a major role in the student’s academic performance, according to Vitanna Personal Finance, a blog that researches financial topics and issues that are occurring in the United States.

In fact, a lack of preparation is the reason that most college students find themselves taking non-accredited college courses, Deborah Perkins-Gough reported in the academic journal for the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

According to data found by the Department of Education, 43 percent of students attending two-year institutions and 29 percent of those attending public four-year colleges said they had been required to enroll in a non-credited course.
Avila said she is still adjusting to her college routine.

Additionally, she explained that community college made things a lot easier for her, and that it has helped improve her communication skills in certain areas such as working in groups.

“Attending community college has helped me work more efficiently, socially and independently,” Avila said. “I am able to communicate better with other students and prioritize my studies.

Furthermore, Avila said her experiences at DCCC led to her majoring in administration of justice.

“Choosing to attend a community college instead of a university was the more ethical choice, financially and even mentally, and I do not regret my choice,” Avila said.

“The plan after my time here at DCCC is to hopefully transfer into Temple, or any other four-year university, so I can receive my bachelor’s degree in criminal justice.”

Contact Ke’Aysha Strand at

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