After The Diploma:

Why I Recommend Attending Central Arizona College First

Melissa Sikes, Cactus Writer

Let me start off by saying that Central Arizona College was not always my first choice. I did not even know of its existence until I was in middle school and the Promise for the Future program came by and had us sign our contracts. I had not imagined myself going to a community college. I had gone through school thinking that it was inferior to university. “It will be my last resort,” I thought. Now here I am, in my final semester at Central Arizona College, graduating with my Associate of Arts degree, and I do not regret a single day of it.

Here is a little background information about why I feel like I can sit here and tell you why you should attend community college first. I was a student at Arizona State University in the fall of 2012. Now this is not where I bash ASU. It is a great school with great opportunities. This is only my personal experience. In those first few weeks at ASU, I felt isolated, like another face in the crowd. That is not to say that I like being in the spotlight because I do not, but I felt that it did not allow me to grow as an individual. I began questioning myself. I did not even know if I had chosen the right major. Long story short, I withdrew before the end of the semester. In the following spring, I enrolled and became a student at Central Arizona College.

So some of you may be in the mindset that CAC is not worth it. Allow me to try to change your mind! Central Arizona College, or any community college for that matter, is cheaper than university. One credit hour at Central Arizona College is $80 for an Arizona resident, while one credit hour at one of the state universities can range from $600 to $900 in-state. That is a huge difference. ENG101 at ASU is eight times more expensive than ENG101 at CAC. It is mindboggling. Many people seem to forget that Central Arizona College is an accredited institution. It is a quality school whether you’d like to believe it or not. You can go to CAC and complete your first two years of prerequisite classes and transfer them to a university, saving nearly $16,000. That’s a pretty big deal. Another aspect that I fully enjoy, and will never take for granted again, are the intimate class sizes. The professor gets to know you throughout the semester and you can even get one-on-one help from them. I am sure you can imagine how this would be difficult to do in a university class with 300 students enrolled. One last thing I believe is worth mentioning is the ability to get involved. The great thing about CAC is that they will do whatever they can to help you start a club and get you participating on campus. They want you to be a part of making the college a better place. At CAC, you grow with the school.

This is not to say going straight to university is a bad decision. It is your decision to make. The purpose of this article is to open your eyes to another possibility. Community colleges are often overlooked and underrated. They are the underdog in the realm of higher education. I only know that attending CAC has not only saved me money, but has also helped me grow as a person and as a leader. I have completed the classes that everyone has to take and have had more time to figure out what I want to do. It was the right decision for me and maybe it could be the right decision for you.}