You might have landed on this article because you’re looking for a way to save money on your college education, or you might have heard that community college is the only way to gain a proper education.

But is it?

It might sound unreal, but it is a fact that community college is no longer the best way to save, try for college, or improve your livelihood as it once was.

With new sets of challenges all around us, from the pandemic to constant technological advancement, it does not make sense to stick to the traditional methods.

But are there any better alternatives available?


And we’re here to help you with exactly that. In this article, we’ll outline why community college fails when it comes to offering value, and also share the Top 5 Best Modern Alternatives for community college for 2024. This can help you save, get a degree faster, and enjoy a smooth journey along the way.

How is Community College Supposed to Work?

For years, community colleges were seen as the top choice for high school graduates and adults looking for an affordable start on their journey to a 4-year undergraduate degree.

It’s true before technology advanced and provided better education alternatives, these institutions were the most budget-friendly option available.

Think about it: going to a community college full-time for two semesters usually costs around $4000 per semester. Now, if you compare that to the tuition at a public university in your home state, you’re looking at saving about half the cost for the first two years of your undergraduate degree.

Another supposed benefit of a community college education, particularly for adult students with families and jobs, is that they offer a more flexible schedule than a traditional 4-year school.

Typically, community colleges offer classes at night and on weekends, so busy adults can try to fit learning into their busy lives. And, since community colleges are closer to home, the logic is that it could also be convenient for busy adults to get to classes since there’s a shorter commute.

However, with the availability of online education, is it still convenient to drive to campus every day or commute at all?

Why not take courses from your couch at home? Keep reading and we’ll talk about that 🙂

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The benefits offered by community colleges are definitely an improvement from what traditional colleges could offer,

but there are even better options that offer more flexibility and an even SHORTER to NO commute at all!

Community colleges are a great place for students to figure out what they want to do in the future. Some students already know exactly what job they want when they grow up.

But for many others, it’s not so clear, and trying out different classes helps them discover which career is right for them.

The Cons of Community College

We believe that community colleges can be compared to the old Model T cars from the 20th century. While they were undoubtedly a step up from horse-drawn buggies, just like the Model T, they might not be able to match up against the advanced technology in today’s cars.

Here’s why community colleges aren’t your best bet any longer:

1. No Longer the Most Affordable Option

While community colleges did offer students some benefits back in the day, the truth is they aren’t the most affordable option today.

Sure, these institutions are cheaper than a 4-year school, but there is still a substantial cost of normally a few thousand dollars per year. And that doesn’t even include the cost of books, parking permits, gas for commuting, and so on.

2. Requires a Large Commitment of Time

Students are still required to put their 2 years on hold as FULL-TIME students in order to get their associate’s degree. This is still a large chunk of time for busy working adults to invest toward higher learning when the main goal is to get a bachelor’s degree as quickly as possible.

In addition, while a community college is typically located nearby, it can still be an inconvenience to drive to campus multiple times per week. Yes, many community colleges offer their classes online, but their platforms are not very robust.

And so most students resign themselves to driving to classes each week, which is not easy if you have children and a full-time job.

3. Can’t Begin Learning Whenever You’re Ready

Community colleges have short enrollment windows, meaning you can’t begin your coursework any time you’d like around the year. They have rigid enrollment structures that fit the typical Fall/Spring courses.

If the semester begins in September, and you want to begin classes in October, you’re out of luck!

You have to wait months or even a year to then enroll for that class.

Instead of learning when you want and how you want, you will need to wait for these small windows.

That doesn’t work for many busy adults.

4. Your Credits May Not Transfer

Not every credit you earn at a community college may be transferable to a four-year school.


Yep, most people don’t realize that it’s not as easy to get your preferred university to accept all of the community college courses for credit toward your degree.

That means one of two things: you’ll have fewer options when selecting your 4-year school, or you’ll have to take (and pay for) classes all over again.

This then begs the question, “What was the point?”

If there are better ways to save by going directly to a 4-year and avoiding this, why not just directly go there? (Stay tuned, we’ll cover this!)

5. A Lack of Guidance

Unfortunately, due to the large number of students, these government entities are tasked with serving, coupled with the constraints of their modest and disturbing budgets, the guidance and support at community colleges often fall short of what most students require to thrive.

As you can see, community colleges were once a great option for students, particularly adult students who wanted to save money toward their degree and be able to take classes at night or on weekends when they had some free time.

But, like that old Model T Ford, there are newer, better options for today’s busy students, and we’re about to share those with you now.

Top 5 Best Alternatives to Community Colleges for 2022

Here are the 5 best alternatives to community colleges to help you reach your goals more quickly and affordably:

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  1. Free Courses for Credit

To get your bachelor’s degree you’ll need to complete 120 college credits.

Typically, you’ll spend thousands of dollars to get your first 60 credits within a 2-year timeframe at a community college. But there could be a much better option.

At we offer FREE courses that could apply toward your college credit. Not only are these courses 100% tuition-free, but you can complete them online, 24/7, completely on your own schedule.

Register for free, and try out our Smartplan to see which schools could be a good fit, and if our courses for credit could apply. The beauty of going this route is that it’s not linear like a community college.

You can enroll at your college while taking our courses simultaneously, potentially earning your degree much faster!

Register now for free in 60 seconds >>

  1. CLEP Exams

CLEP stands for College Level Examination Program. This program was designed to help students earn college credit for knowledge they already possess. This knowledge could have come from advanced high school courses, independent reading and study, online coursework, or on-the-job training.

By clearing the CLEP exam, students can earn three or more college credits at more than 2,900 U.S. colleges and universities, potentially earning their degrees more efficiently and inexpensively.

According to a Usery Workplace Research Group study from 2017, among students enrolled at two-year colleges, earning just one credit-granting CLEP score increased their probability of completing an associate degree by over 5 percentage points.

And, according to a College Board survey from 2019, high school CLEP test takers who scored 50 or higher and went on to a four-year college had typically higher graduation rates.

So CLEP exams can not only help you save a lot of money toward your tuition but increase your chances of earning your degree.

  1. Tuition Discounts

Our goal at is to make college more affordable. So we go out and organize discounts for you on your behalf at universities.

Discounts that could immediately lower the cost of tuition at your university!

They’re awesome because rather than spending a lot of time applying for scholarships and grants (with no guarantee you’ll get them despite all of that time and effort), these discounts instantly lower the cost of your education.

Far better option for busy adults than looking for scholarships all weekend.

Get started, and see which schools offer these discounts.

It’s easy to use: acts as a college savings engine. You tell us what you need and we’ll find you the colleges and universities that meet your criteria, and how you could potentially save!

Need a school that’s adult-friendly? We got you.

Want to know which colleges have robust online programs? We got you.

Which ones don’t require SAT or ACT scores?

Which waive their application fees and include laptops and books in the cost of their tuition?

We. got. you.

See how it works! We can find these schools for you plus the ones that accept our free course credits, potentially saving you THOUSANDS on your tuition.

  1. Enroll Directly at a 4-Year School

I know this sounds surprising, but the reality is that online adult-friendly universities could already be:

  1. More affordable
  2. Available for enrollment at any time to get started, and
  3. Faster through their accelerated programs.

You could enroll directly at these 4-year colleges, and get a career-ready degree faster and completely online, which is how busy adults want to earn their degree.

Plus, with the ways we’re showing you to potentially save in this article, you can have your cake and eat it too!  Going directly towards your bachelor’s and saving money and time.

  1. Get a Certification Instead

Most people don’t realize there are a ton of great paying careers in high-demand industries that don’t require a degree or any prior experience!

In most cases, all you need is a certification that takes a fraction of the time and cost of a degree.

You could be ready for that new career in as little as three months!  No college degree is needed.

We have a whole list of certifications you can check out here.

As an example, Medical Billing and Coding is a great career in the growing field of healthcare.

These professionals often work from home or in an office, managing and organizing health information data for hospitals or medical offices. AND, making a great salary of, on average, $44,090 a year based on the latest BLS (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics) data.

All you need to get started toward this rewarding and well-paying career is a good certification program, and we can match you up with the right one. Take our free quiz:

Take the Quiz! >

Putting it All Together

As you can see, there are far better modern alternatives than community colleges to meet your education goals.

Options that could get you to your main goal more quickly and affordably: A better life for you and your family.

Here’s what we suggest you do next:

Register for free and get a free Smartplan to figure out which schools may be a great fit for your career goals.

In addition, our Smartplan will help you identify schools that could be a great fit for you, find ways to save, and potentially earn your degree much faster!

In addition to free courses, we’re able to match you up with schools that fit other learning criteria, such as:

  • All Online
  • Accelerated programs
  • Don’t require SAT or ACT scores
  • No application fees
  • Could include laptops and books in the cost of tuition
  • And more

Get started toward your degree and let help you so you can save and get there faster!

Get Started for Free! >


About the Author
Grant founded with a purpose-driven mission: make college accessible and affordable for everyone. After graduating college with an overwhelming amount of debt, he was determined to change how students embark on their education. He's a frequent speaker and author in higher education, and has been featured in Forbes, Bloomberg Businessweek, Business Insider, American Express, AOL, MSN, Thrive Global, Reader's Digest, Inside Higher Ed, Evolllution, EducationDive, and nearly 100 radio shows and podcasts.