Everyone thinks they have the four-year college degree all figured out. Send your kid to the best school you can afford, pray for some type of scholarship or financial aid, borrow the rest at exorbitant interest rates, and then cross your fingers and pray that your child gets a job that will allow him to pay off the enormous debt that has accrued.

Is this the way we want our kids to begin their lives as independent adults?

The obvious answer is no. And the way to avoid this scenario is community college. But, you’ll have to be thick-skinned. You’ll have to be able to withstand the disapproving glances from other parents whose kids are going to “prestigious” for year schools. You’ll have to bite your tongue when one of the moms asks “Ryan is going to Penn. Where’s your son, Logan, going?” And when you announce, “Oh Logan’s going to community college,” you’ll have to bite that tongue even harder when you hear, “Ohhhhhh ... that’s OK,” as if you just announced that Logan flunked his entire senior year.

Community college is such a great option, especially nowadays, when a lot of them have reciprocal agreements with four-year schools so you can pay the cheap tuition for the first two years and not have to go into debt for the entire four. Not only that, but it gives a kid time to figure out what he wants to do and switch his major 14 times in freshman year without breaking the bank while he does so.

Also, there are some great options for careers that only require an associate’s degree. It’s possible that a student might believe he needs a bachelor’s degree, but then settle on an associate's once he gets to the local community college. Not to mention the fact that New Jersey has some of the best community colleges in the nation. And even if he’s dead-set on the four-year journey, let’s face it, if a kid really needs a bachelor's degree, what is the difference if he spends the first two years doing it for $5,000 a year instead of $50,000?

Especially with New Jersey having some of the most expensive colleges out there.
Unless your pride is such that you just could not utter the words, “My child goes to community college,” or you can’t possibly consider owning a car without a “University of Such-and-Such” sticker on the back window, there simply is no reason not to send your child to community college.

The post above reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Judi Franco. Any opinions expressed are Judi's own.

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