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N.C. Community Colleges Becoming More Popular as Starting Point

Community colleges are increasingly becoming a popular and cheaper alternative to spending all four years at a senior university.

The number of students who transferred from state community colleges to campuses in the University of North Carolina system increased by more than 34 percent between 2000 and 2005, according to admissions statistics.

Private colleges and universities report a nearly 40 percent increase during that period.

The increase occurred as overall enrollment at North Carolina community colleges grew about 5.9 percent in the past five years, to 191,186 last fall.

β€œTwo-year college is increasingly seen as an affordable and efficient option for starting your higher education,” said David Hawkins, public policy director at the National Association for College Admissions Counseling.

These students often have the grades to get into a senior university, but will choose to spend their first two years of higher education at a community college because of rising tuition costs and tighter admission policies at top schools.

In Charlotte, annual tuition at Central Piedmont Community College is $1,434, compared with $3,899 at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.

β€œI figured you can save several hundred dollars by just going to a community college,” said Josh Alexander, 22, now a junior at UNC Charlotte.

Alexander said his parents had adopted six children, and attending classes at Central Piedmont for a year was more economical.

Starting out at a community college also can help students adapt to college.

β€œThey start out at a community college because they want to make a slower transition to a four-year school,” said Tina McEntire, director of admissions at UNC Charlotte. β€œWe also see that community colleges tend to have more adaptable schedules they may offer more night courses.”

– Associated Press

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