Archived Story

Southwestern Michigan College: Community colleges provide more affordable alternative

Published 10:21pm Wednesday, August 8, 2012

By DR. DAVID MATHEWS

President, Southwestern Michigan College

August is the time of year when thoughts of summer start fading into the reality of the season ahead — a time when parents begin the task of preparing for their students’ return to school.

For many parents of first-time college students, “sticker shock” sets in with the arrival of the first semester bill from the state university your student has chosen to attend. The cost of a college education over the course of four years hits home for many parents as their student transitions from high school to a university.

For far too many families, the high cost of university tuition results in taking on huge student loans.

There is an alternative to this scenario: Begin your college education by attending one of Michigan’s 28 community colleges. According to the American Association of Community Colleges, nearly half of U.S. undergraduates attend community college.

The most obvious advantage for students beginning at a community college is they can take core classes at a much more affordable cost.

For example, tuition at Southwestern Michigan College is far less than half the cost of a Michigan four-year university.

Less obvious, but equally important, is the fact community colleges also have smaller class sizes so students have more academic interaction with their instructors than they would at a large four-year institution.

Finally, since college life is more than just individual classes, SMC offers a full array of campus life activities and on-campus student housing, which give students that total college experience all at a fraction of the cost of a state university.

Your student doesn’t have to give up on the idea of becoming a Bronco, Laker, Spartan or Wolverine; they can get their educational foundation at Southwestern Michigan College and after two years, transfer to a state university — saving tons of money in the long run.

Or better yet, they can stay here for four years, earning a bachelor’s degree through Ferris State University or Bethel College and never have to leave the campus. Either way, your student can start strong without a burden of debt.

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