No one said a college education was cheap. But, if you play your cards right, plan ahead, stay focused and keep your eyes open for free money, you might just reap the same kind of benefits these young men and women did.
Have a Plan
Jared Wallace always thought he belonged in the healthcare industry, and at one time, considered becoming a hospital administrator.
“Then I realized that would mean sitting behind a desk,” he said. “I prefer hands-on.” So, right out of high school, Wallace developed a plan and started classes at Dabney S. Lancaster Community College, where he would go on to earn an associate degree in nursing and finish his education debt-free.
“Community college,” he noted, “was a real bargain.”
Start College While You’re Still in High School
Home-schooled and the youngest of six children, Cynthia Forrester graduated from Lord Fairfax Community College with an associate of science degree when she was just 17. She was a dual-enrolled student at the age of 14, and noted, “Everything about me is associated with LFCC. I’ve spent most of my adolescence here.”
Dual enrollment allows qualified high-school students to enroll in college coursework while still in high school. Courses are taught by qualified full- or part-time faculty, and credit for dual enrollment course is generally accepted at all Virginia private and public colleges.
Earn Your Associate Degree First
Brandon Morgan was unable to attend VCU, James Madison University or Drexel even though he’d been accepted to all three. His family just couldn’t afford it. So, he shifted gears and enrolled at Tidewater Community College where he planned to get a good GPA and transfer out.
But, after some meaningful advice from his brother who encouraged him to get involved in school activities in addition to taking classes, Morgan immersed himself in the community college experience and, in the process, discovered his passion for teaching. He also saved himself and his family tens of thousands of dollars that would otherwise have been spent on tuition and fees at a four-year institution.
After earning his Associate degree in Applied Science, Morgan was accepted into the College of Human Ecology at Cornell University.
“I’m really at home at TCC,” he said, “but I’m looking forward to the next chapter.”
Get Free Money from the State to Attend a University and Check into Scholarships Along the Way
A significant number of Virginia’s Community Colleges’ students have taken advantage of our Two-Year College Transfer Grant Program. Earning an associate degree can entitle you to receive a grant of up to $3,000 annually when you transfer to a participating four-year college or university in Virginia. In other words, we’ll pay you to earn a bachelor’s once you’ve graduated from one of our 23 colleges!
The Virginia Foundation for Community College Education – the fundraising arm of Virginia’s Community Colleges – offers a variety of scholarship programs every year, ranging from $1,000 to $10,000. In 2016, 74 students received scholarships totaling more than $364,000.
Take 15 Credits Every Semester
Time-management is critical to the success of any endeavor, especially when transitioning from high school to college or from one career to another.
Since many of Virginia’s Community College students work full and part-time jobs, the demands of a class schedule can be difficult to manage. Too many classes can lead to chaos. Conversely, too few can delay one’s pursuit of a potentially life-changing associate degree or workforce credential.
Most experts agree that 15 hours each semester will keep a student focused and on-track to complete their course requirements in a timely fashion. Virginia’s Community Colleges can help you reach your goals on time and for a fraction of the cost of a four-year college or university.
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