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Time Versus Debt: Why These Students Chose Community College
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Time Versus Debt: Why These Students Chose Community College

The Value Of A College Education

Time Versus Debt: Why These Students Chose Community College

Time Versus Debt: Why These Students Chose Community College
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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/437262965/438943330" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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Nancy Chen chose to go to community college at Montgomery College. On Monday nights, she works for the Rockville Volunteer Fire Department. i

Nancy Chen chose to go to community college at Montgomery College. On Monday nights, she works for the Rockville Volunteer Fire Department. Elissa Nadworny/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Elissa Nadworny/NPR
Nancy Chen chose to go to community college at Montgomery College. On Monday nights, she works for the Rockville Volunteer Fire Department.

Nancy Chen chose to go to community college at Montgomery College. On Monday nights, she works for the Rockville Volunteer Fire Department.

Elissa Nadworny/NPR

Going to college today is a very different experience than it once was. The cost has soared, and the great recession cut into many of the assets that were supposed to pay for it. This week, All Things Considered is talking with young people — and in some cases their parents — about the value of school and about their choice of what kind of college to attend.

Today, we'll hear from students who chose the most popular option, one that has risen steadily since the great recession hit: community college.

In their case, it's Montgomery College. Close to home, highly regarded and affordable, it is a sensible choice for students who want the benefits of a higher education without the baggage of debt.

We went to campus on a day before classes started to meet up with students on three very different paths through community college.

Meet Three Students At Montgomery College

  • Carlos Mejia-Ramos

    Carlos Mejia Ramos
    Elissa Nadworny/NPR

    High School: Covenant Life School, Gaithersburg, Md.

    Choices: Montgomery College; University of Maryland, Baltimore County

    Debt: None

    Major: Political Science

    Career Goal: Law school

    "I didn't feel like I was making less of a decision by going to Montgomery College ... I was able to stay at home and save money."

  • Jake Meile

    Jake Meile
    Elissa Nadworny/NPR

    High School: Our Lady of Good Counsel High School, Olney, Md.

    Choice: Montgomery College

    Debt: None. Anticipates $10,000 a year for American Academy of Dramatic Arts.

    Major: Theater

    Career goal: Professional comedian/actor

    "In private school, I felt stupid for not getting into a four-year ... Montgomery College was an attainable goal, a small-scale place I could take time, then transfer."

  • Nancy Chen

    Nancy Chen
    Elissa Nadworny/NPR

    High School: Richard Montgomery High School, Rockville, Md.

    Choices: Salisbury University; University of Maryland, Baltimore County; Montgomery College

    Debt: None

    Major: Nursing

    Career goal: Nurse or firefighter

    "I accumulated no debt from school, while I see my friends from high school accumulate debt."

  • How We Did This

    This week, we're talking to students who went to high school in Montgomery County, Md., just outside Washington, D.C. It's considerably more diverse than the rest of the nation: Nearly one-third of its residents are foreign-born. It's also more highly educated: with more than double the national average for bachelor's degrees.

    Jessica Cheung contributed reporting for this series.

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