The Financial Benefits of Community College for Students
Due to the staggering rate at which college tuition prices have increased over the last 30 to 40 years, going to a traditional four-year university isn't in the cards for everyone. There's a significant amount of social pressure to attend college, but if a high school senior doesn't know exactly what they want to study–and by extension do for the rest of their life– it can be hard to justify taking out a six figure loan. And even when you do know what you want to do, it often may not feel worth it. The era of finding oneself while away at college is over; most people don't have that luxury anymore.
With more and more students opting to go to trade school or eschewing post-high school education altogether, liberal arts–that is courses that don't necessarily translate directly into specific career paths–are beginning to lose their prestige. Once the foundation of higher education, the humanities are catching a lot of flak because their practical application isn't abundantly clear. It's certainly understandable. Spending hours grappling with Foucault and Kierkegaard isn't going to make someone rich, or help them pay off their student loan debt. That said, for many, Community college has provided the most feasible means of getting a well-rounded education without taking out exorbitant loans. Community college allows would-be university students to knock out their general education courses at a fraction of the price. With this in mind, here is a quick rundown of the benefits of starting out at a Community college.
Saving money is perhaps the best argument for attending community college
This one's a no brainer. The average yearly tuition at a two-year Community college is a little over $3,000 per year, about one third of the cost of an in-state public school. Prices increase for out-of-state tuition; if you were to leave the state for public school, tuition fees average at about $24,000 per year. Private school is even more expensive, with an average cost of around $35,000 per year. Even if you eventually want to go to a private school, lowering your loans by around $70,000 by taking your first few years of class at Community college is definitely a smart move.
If the credits transfer, why not take them for cheaper?
Most Community colleges have specific programs set up with state and private universities in their immediate vicinity. These programs are designed to help funnel students into the schools they want to go to and sometimes even give scholarships to students with outstanding grades. Still, it's always important for students to check exactly which class credits transfer, as most universities have limits on the amount of credits they'll accept.
Figuring out what you want to do
Deciding what to do can be tough
Community college might not be free, but at $3,000 per year, it's more feasible for students who live at home to be able to work and save money to pay for their tuition. This affords Community college students a level of freedom that many university students just don't have. Those at Community college have the opportunity to explore their interests and find out exactly what career path they want to follow. Want to take an experimental dance class? Go ahead. Want to take photography? Knock yourself out.
It's Easier to Go Part-Time
Working and going to school at the same time can be a balancing act. Community college makes it easier.
For people who never got a college degree, Community college is the perfect way to get back into academics. It may be more realistic for some to attend classes part-time or take night courses so that they can still work while taking classes. And if someone wanted to take one class per semester, it'd be easier to facilitate at a junior college. Most major universities have either a credit minimum, or charge an additional price-per-credit that makes part-time study uneconomical.
Smaller Class Sizes
Get to know your teachers better.
While almost every American university boasts "small class sizes," Community colleges tend to actually deliver on this promise. The class sizes might not be as small as some private universities, but classrooms tend to average around twenty students. This gives students an opportunity to form relationships with their professors and get more access to one-on-one instruction.
There are certainly advantages associated with going to an accredited four-year university. These schools often have more resources and by extension better facilities than most Community colleges. That said, Community colleges are beginning to improve as more students are finding they can't afford the traditional route. There's no one correct path. Both Community college and four-year universities have different things to offer. The reality is, success in college is predicated on a student's willingness to learn, not the classroom they're sitting in.
Looking for a job? In addition to encountering those annoying never-ending job interviews you may find yourself face-to-face with an artificial intelligence bot.
Companies worldwide increasingly use artificial intelligence tools and analytics in employment decision-making – from parsing through resumes and screening candidates to automated assessments and digital interviews. But recent studies claim that AI does more harm than good.
While AI screening tools were developed to save companies time and money, they’ve been criticized for placing women and people of color at a disadvantage. The problem is that many companies lack appreciable diversity in their data set, making it impossible for an algorithm to know how people from underrepresented groups have performed in the past. As a result, the algorithm will be biased toward the data available and compare future candidates to that archetype.
The City’s Automated Employment Decision Tools (AEDT) law is designed to offset the potential misuse of AI and protect job candidates against discrimination. It was enforced on July 5th, 2023 in New York City - with other cities and states expected to gradually follow suit. Employers must now inform applicants when and how they encounter AI. Furthermore, companies have to commission a third-party audit of the AI software used, and publish a summary of the results to prove that their systems aren’t racist or sexist. Job applicants are able to request information regarding what data is collected and analyzed by the AI. Violations of the law can result in fines of up to $1,500.
Replacing Human Hiring Decisions
However, should a job applicant want to opt-out of such impersonal judgement by a bot, the new law's scope is quite limited.
While the law specifies that instructions for requesting an alternative selection process must be included in the AI screening disclosure, companies aren't actually required to use other screening methods. Not to mention that the law only applies to AI in hiring and not any other employment decisions. It also wouldn't apply if the AI, for example, flags candidates with relevant experience, but a human then reviews all applications, making the ultimate hiring decision.
Some civil rights advocates and public interest groups argue that the law isn’t extensive enough and that it’s even unenforceable. On the other hand, businesses say that it’s impractical, costly, and burdensome, and that independent audits aren’t feasible.
Responsible use of AI in hiring
Although this law may be a good first attempt to assign more regulatory guardrails around AI, it remains to be seen if it ensures the responsible use of AI in hiring processes. At the end of the day, perhaps recruiting talent should remain a human-made decision.
The good news is that AI can help companies without harming potential job candidates in many ways – such as connecting new employees with internal organizational information and company benefits during onboarding. Or helping employees to do their jobs more effectively rather than replacing them.
There’s all this talk about solo travel. And for good reason — no wasting precious time waiting for others to get their act together, take the plans out of the group chat and actually buy the tickets. Going solo, you can be spontaneous. You can plan your trips according to your precise tastes. You can hop on any flight and fly awayyyyyy.
But what if each time you flew you’d get a free ticket? That’s what you get with the Southwest Companion Pass.
Award status, upgrades, lounge access — there are many perks in the frequent flier game. But one of the coveted holy grails is the Southwest Companion Pass.
What is the Southwest Companion Pass?
The Companion Pass is part of Southwest’s Rapid Rewards program. You get to choose one person to be your “companion,” and they fly with you for free (plus some taxes and fees) on every flight. That’s right. Two for the price of one. That’s half off each ticket if you split it! Whether you’re flying with a partner, family member, friend, or anyone else, they can tag along for free.
And it gets better: once you earn the pass, you can reap the rewards for that full calendar year … AND the next. That’s why people go mad trying to earn a companion pass during the early months of the year. The sooner you qualify, the longer you can use it.
There are also no blackout dates. There are no limits. And if you didn’t purchase the ticket (think: work travel, your companion, or a generous benefactor), there are no restrictions! As long as you’re the one on the plane, your companion can also … be on the plane.
You can also switch out your designated companion 3x a year. So, no need to stay in a relationship simply to get the most out of your companion pass! Ghost and fly away — with a whole new companion!
If this sounds too good to be true — it’s not. But there is one small catch. It’s kinda tough to earn this mega reward.
How to qualify for the Southwest Companion Pass?
You can qualify for the pass in one of two ways:
- Fly 100 qualifying one-way flights
- Earn 135,000 qualifying points in a calendar year.
Clearly, this is no small feat — especially if you’re trying to qualify ASAP.
So how do you actually earn the Southwest Companion Pass?
Don’t worry, there’s a path to earning this amazing reward without climbing on 100 flights or spending an exorbitant amount of money.
Earning 135K reward points may seem completely impossible, but it’s easier than it sounds. Simply sign up for a Southwest Credit Card and turn those spending habits into a rapid rewards account. Through the Rewards Priority Credit Card, earn points when using local transit and commuting, plus score major points and miles whenever you spend.
Stay with me here. This is not some scheme to get you into credit card debt. Many airline cards come with potential savings, giantic rewards, awarding you points, and cashback with every purchase you make that can be redeemed for travel. And often they can come with passive sign-up bonuses. If you spend a specific amount of money within a certain timeframe of opening the card, you can be in for a windfall of points.
Now that’s where the companion pass comes in:
- Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier
- Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card
- Southwest Priority Credit Card
- Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Business Credit Card
- Southwest Performance Business Credit Card
Southwest has three personal cards and a business card. Each of these cards offers rewards between 30K-80K points. In the past, people could open two cards and get a bonus that granted enough points to almost meet the minimum. However, with new restrictions on personal cards, you can only get one bonus every 24 months. Boo!
However, this doesn’t apply to business cards. If you’re eligible, have good credit, and not likely to spiral into insane credit card debt, you can open a business card and a personal card, and accrue 100K+ points. The Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card will get you points after you spend money in no time.
Now to earn the rest of them.
The secret to gaining these credit card points is to plan your card sign-ups around big purchases. Just before a recent move, I opened a card . . . and the rewards came rolling in — a small balm to ease the pain of how exorbitant moving can be.
Put everyday spend — especially big purchases or bulk items — on your Southwest credit card and watch your award points quickly add up. Typically, you earn 1 point per $1 spent on your Southwest card and 2 points per $1 on actual Southwest purchases.
But there are other ways to earn points, including:
- Flying Southwest: Booking travel on Southwest earns more points. The cost of this travel will be worth it with your companion pass
- Shopping from Rapid Rewards Partners: Purchases with Southwest’s “Home & Lifestyle” and “Shop and Dine” Partners also earn Companion Pass qualifying points. While you shouldn’t make gratuitous purchases, browse Southwest’s partners to see if you could earn extra points for items you'd be purchasing anyway. All this, simply from enrolling in their Dining Program and shopping with their partners.
So there you have it! And since it’s almost Spring, get to earning and soon you’ll be flying two for the price of one!