Ariadna Valencia, NorthWest Arkansas Community College
Pursuing: Associate Degree
High School: Rogers High School | Age: 19 | Year: Sophomore
Ariadna Valencia decided a nursing degree was the right path for her after taking a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) class in high school and volunteering at Mercy Hospital in northwest Arkansas. “I was in awe of the nurses and what they did,” she says. “Before that, I was really indecisive of what I wanted to do.” To help her prepare for college courses, Ariadna chose to take AP classes and enrolled in the Early College Experience program at Rogers High School.
While higher education can be expensive, Ariadna received two scholarships from NorthWest Arkansas Community College that helps pay for part of her tuition and textbooks and she put the rest of her tuition on a payment plan. She also works part time as a CNA at Washington Regional Medical Center, which doubles as great experience for her resume.
Since she’s a first-generation college student, she didn’t know where to begin when applying to schools or scholarships. She got connected with the LIFE Program at NWACC while she was in high school and it helped her prepare for the next step in her life.
“Being involved in college will bring numerous opportunities you wouldn’t think were possible,” she says. “No matter what club or organization you join, you may have the chance to impact someone’s life for the better and, when you do, you’ll feel a sense of fulfillment knowing you're making a difference in your community.”
"If a student wants to go into the workforce quicker, then receiving a two-year degree is the way to go.”
Community colleges often offer smaller classes, which means more one-on-one time with your professors. Many have as few as 20 students. In smaller classes, it’s easier for professors to get to know students and students feel more comfortable asking for help when needed.
THIS OPTION IS FOR YOU IF...
• You’d like to save money on tuition
• You haven’t picked a major yet
• You want to live at home
What You Should Know
Two-year colleges allow students to adjust to college gradually. Plus, students can get the courses needed for the first two years of a bachelor’s degree for less money. Others work toward a certificate in a specific area of a two-year associate degree.
The average tuition and fees for in-state students enrolled full-time at a public two-year college were $3,570 in 2017-18*. Notably cheaper than four-year institutions, plus scholarships and financial aid are still available.
Most public two-year colleges have an “open door” admissions policy. All you need is your high school transcript or GED scores. Most don’t have a minimum GPA requirement.
Dorms aren’t the norm, so a two-year college may be best if you want to live at home with your parents, or try spreading your wings in your own apartment.