Time Versus Debt: Why These Students Chose Community College : NPR Ed How do families decide what kind of college to attend: Private? Public? Community college? Three college students explain why they went for the local community college: Montgomery College.

Time Versus Debt: Why These Students Chose Community College

Time Versus Debt: Why These Students Chose Community College

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/437262965/438943330" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

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.

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.