To avoid paying thousands of dollars for online courses, more high school students have considered community college over their admission offers in light of COVID-19. UCI undergraduates pay more than $15,000 in tuition, so this is an understandable and financially favorable avenue to take. Community college students save money and it is easier for them to earn college acceptances from top-tier universities, with transfer students earning guaranteed acceptance from UCI.
Education is not cheap, but community college tuition is certainly more manageable. For the 2017-2018 academic year, Irvine Valley College was estimated to be $1,142 for California residents. Saddleback College charges $46 per unit with 12 units being considered full-time, so tuition for one academic year could come to $1,104, not including other abysmal fees you may encounter. It is clearly more financially advantageous to attend community college if you’re questioning the worth of taking classes online at a UC.
Not only is community college more affordable, but community college students have a greater chance of getting accepted into their dream schools. For instance, all universities within the UC and CSU systems do not require transfer students to take the SAT or ACT. This takes substantial pressure off students because they do not need to pay for standardized prep courses or spend months studying for these exams. Though UCs have suspended these tests for high school applicants until 2024, high school applicants still lack an essential benefit transfer students possess: the Transfer Admission Guarantee (TAG).
TAG is an agreement between six UCs — UCI, UC Davis, UC Merced, UC Riverside, UC Santa Barbara and UC Santa Cruz — and California community colleges (CCC), which guarantees college acceptance to all CCC students who meet specific requirements.
It is important to note, however, that not all majors participate in TAG. For instance, CCC students are not provided TAG to UCI’s nursing science major. But for the most part, transfer students can earn guaranteed acceptance into reputable programs across multiple UCs. UCI offers more than 80 majors with only 14 of those majors being untaggable.
Even if a program of interest is unavailable through TAG, community college is still a prudent strategy to attain college acceptance from a wide range of schools. If you’re concerned about beefing up your resume, application or finding letters of recommendation, you can make yourself competitive by conducting independent research through a research methods course. All universities love research, and if you have research experience under your belt, you will stand out on any application.
Additionally, if high school students are thinking of deferring their admission offers then it is important to read each individual university deferment policy. UCI only allows students to defer their acceptance under certain circumstances. Although, I must note that deferring acceptance is not something I would recommend because there isn’t much to do during a gap year as a high school graduate. Coronavirus has resulted in more than 36 million people filing for unemployment, making it astronomically more difficult to secure a job in the present economic climate with only a high school education. In addition, high school graduates would be graduating college a year later than they would if they didn’t defer. It would be better to attend community college, transfer and hopefully graduate into a healthier economic environment.
Community college is not easy, but it is the easiest way to receive acceptance from revered universities and save yourself from substantial student debt. Community college students do not have to spend time and money towards the SAT or ACT, California community college students can use the TAG to attain guaranteed acceptance into the UC system, and community college students do not have to pay more than $15,000 each academic year. It is both financially and academically advantageous to walk the community college path, especially now.
Thomas Solano is an Opinion Intern for the 2020 spring quarter. He can be reached at email@example.com.