Katie Goodale

The Old Capitol building is seen on March, 6, 2021.

Point/counter point | Should students begin higher education at community college?

Opinions Editor Sophia Meador and contributor Sam Knupp on whether higher education should start at community college .

March 7, 2023


Finding a job after graduation doesn’t scare me. But paying back my debt after four years at the University of Iowa does.

Higher education is a huge investment. According to the state Board of Regents, a UI in-state student with debt will graduate with an average of $26,196.That’s equivalent to about 5,500 venti iced coffees at Starbucks.

Because higher education is expensive, many students seek more affordable paths. One of the best ways to save on higher education begins at community college.

Full disclosure: I did not attend community college before attending the UI. However, I took local community college courses for high school credit. From my experience with community college and university courses, I saw little difference in quality of general education courses.

Additionally, most community colleges have smaller class sizes, which is convenient for students to gain closer connections with faculty and students. This is especially helpful for all those large STEM lectures I hear students complain about.

But the biggest perk of community college is saving money. Students in Iowa who attend community college save an estimated $8,432 on average, according to LendingTree. That totals to almost 1,800 venti iced coffees.

I know first-hand how exciting it is to attend a Big Ten university after high school. Long-term financial planning is the least of your concerns at 18 years old. It can be easy to forget the primary focus of college is education, not socialization.

While there are many positive attributes a formative university experience can bring, the fact is, you can get the same education for a more affordable price.

Think about that the next time you’re waiting in line at Starbucks.

Columns reflect the opinions of the authors and are not necessarily those of the Editorial Board, The Daily Iowan, or other organizations in which the author may be involved.



I went to community college for two years. I met some of my best friends there and got to take classes taught by some of my favorite educators.

Community college has its place. If you’re pursuing a technical career, community college is the best way to go. But for those of us looking to pursue a four-year career path, it leaves a lot to be desired.

After getting my two-year degree, I arrived at the University of Iowa as a junior, living off campus. The connections and friendships I could have made as an underclassman living in residence halls were foregone. I found myself having to take general education classes I could have knocked out as a freshman.

I had to wait until my junior year to write for The Daily Iowan, only to figure out with two semesters to go that I might not want to be a journalist — something I might’ve figured out sooner had I attended the UI at the beginning of my college career.

Because of the general education classes that weren’t offered at community college, I have to attend the UI for five semesters after attending community college part-time for five semesters.

Considering that only 43.1 percent of community college students in the 2016 cohort finished their program by 2022, making us go to even more school than regular students isn’t exactly putting us in a position to succeed.

It’s not just community colleges that need to improve — it’s colleges in general. Instead of running a racket by making journalism students learn about the printing press, require fewer classes and make college less grating to get through.

Columns reflect the opinions of the authors and are not necessarily those of the Editorial Board, The Daily Iowan, or other organizations in which the author may be involved.


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