Recently released data shows that more high school seniors who graduated in 2018 chose to attend Alabama’s community colleges last year than those who chose four-year universities.

According to the Public Affairs Research Council of Alabama, which pulled data from the Alabama Commission on Higher Education (ACHE) compiled from the National Student Clearinghouse, 62% of Alabama’s 50,528 high school graduates in 2018 chose to attend a college or university. Of that number, 32 percent – or 16,085 – enrolled in an Alabama community college. That represents 951 more students than the previous year and the highest number over the past five years, according to PARCA.

More than 112,800 students chose Alabama’s community colleges in 2018. That number included more than 16,000 dually enrolled students who experienced a community college before high school graduation.

Alabama’s community colleges are a clear choice for graduates looking for a college that is laser-focused on the student experience. Student life spans from clubs and organizations to athletics and academic scholars programs. Tuition at Alabama’s community colleges is less than half the cost of tuition at the state’s public four-year universities. Class sizes are smaller, offering more personalized interaction between students and instructors, and workforce training results in certifications and degrees in a much shorter time frame than the pursuit of a four-year degree.

That’s not all: even with greater affordability and the close-to-home benefits of a community college, general education courses that students take at Alabama’s community colleges are the same, core classes that students take at four-year universities and can be transferred to any public university in the state. Transfer students are often eligible for scholarships at their universities, too. Several of partnerships between community colleges and four-year universities include added perks for students who start at a community college and finish at the university.

Students who started at a community college before obtaining their associate degree may also be eligible for reverse transfer, which awards the students their associate degree while they’re at the university after the student has completed a number of courses at their university. Here is an example of how reverse transfer works at Lawson State.

While we are ecstatic that more residents are starting their college experience with us, there’s still more work to do as PARCA reports that 38 percent of high school graduates did not enroll in higher education. Our recruiters and college staffs continue to work to maximize training opportunities and focus on how to get even more students on a path to great futures.

You can apply online to attend your nearest community college. Visit the college’s website for contact information regarding admissions, financial aid, and programs.