The Obama administration’s new plan to pass legislation providing two years of free community college will open a whole new world of opportunity for prospective students.
According to the American Association of Community Colleges, 36 percent of community college students in 2014 were in the first generation of their families to pursue postsecondary education. Government-funded tuition for the first two years of community college will go a long way toward alleviating some stress students are already under.
Students benefitting from this plan will be able to save up money to use later in their pursuit of higher education. Many people considering college after high school postpone their undergrad in order to work and save money. In a lot of these instances, a gap year can stretch out for longer than expected or even extend indefinitely. According to EducationByTheNumbers.org, only 6 percent of students who took off a year or more after high school earned a bachelor’s degree by the time they turned 25 or 26.
The community college plan offers students the opportunity to explore their majors and really find what they want to do. Experimenting in community college is less of a high-stakes environment than it would be at a four-year university. Additionally, community college is an easier transition from high school, and having tuition paid for allows students to focus on their grades.
Opponents of Obama’s plan bring up valid concerns as to where the estimated $6 billion a year it would take to make this plan happen will come from. There are concerns that increasing the amount of people with Associate’s Degrees will drive down the value of other degrees as a result.
Having two free years of college paid for is not the handout many seem to think it is. There are guidelines students would have to abide by in order to partake in the program. Some requirements suggested by the proposal include maintaining a 2.5 GPA and logging some community service hours.
Every person is not destined to have a bachelor’s degree despite the mold perpetuated in mainstream society. Attaining an associate’s degree leads to other successful pursuits such as achieving a higher education and moving forward debt-free. America’s reputation as the land of opportunity is also tied into hard work and dedication. Free community college should be part of the package as well.