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All About California Community Colleges

A large white building that says "Pasadena City College" on the front. In front of the building is a large fountain and rows of trees.

This post is from a student, parent, or professional contributor. The opinions expressed by the author are their own and do not necessarily reflect the positions, viewpoints, or policies of Niche.

What is the CCC System?

The California Community Colleges, or CCC, was established in 1967 as a way to provide education and resources for California residents.

This school system has played a huge role in advancing the education of many students as well as providing social mobility through certification and work programs.

Currently, there are 116 community colleges across the state of California, and they currently serve 1.6 million students from different backgrounds and life experiences. 

CCC Origins

The California Community College system is part of a larger 3-tiered public education system, which includes the University of California and California State University systems.

These educational systems were created under the California Master Plan for Higher Education, whose goal was to educate as many Californians and help them reach their educational goals.

The oldest community college, Fresno City College, was founded in 1910 after California legislature saw the need to create a new educational system to support the overwhelmed existing universities. 

At first, these ‘junior colleges’ (as they used to be called) existed to support high schools, and then helped create trade studies such as agriculture and commerce. Those studies then began to expand to other subjects, and then the ability to transfer to 4-year colleges came soon after. 

While transferring out might be the main reason why students attend a CCC, these campuses offer so much more. From earning an Associate’s Degree to obtaining a certificate, students have the option to explore their goal. These community colleges are packed with robust resources to make sure every student’s goals are met. 

Why You Should Attend A Community College First

CCC Today

Today, about a third of students are transfers at the UC’s and CSU’s. More and more students are going to a community college straight out of high school or even doing concurrent enrollment.

The great thing about these colleges is that they are affordable compared to a 4-year institution. The system boasts a $46-per-unit fee, one of the lowest in the country. This is beneficial to those that are worried about cost and concerned about financial aid.

The biggest caveat to CCC or community colleges in general is the fact that the majority of students are commuters and working as well.

For someone who values student life, it is slightly harder to find. But, there are opportunities to find and make friends, as CCC have their own student government and a myriad of clubs to join.

My favorite part of attending a CCC is the diversity of students in my classrooms. Many were business professionals, student-parents, veterans, or people just learning for fun.

The California Community Colleges are open for everyone and ready to help you pursue higher education at your own pace. You can still see the remnants of the Master Plan, and it’s heartwarming to see like-minded folks wanting to learn.

Attending a CCC was the best decision for me, as I saved a lot of money and was able to figure out my passions stress-free. 

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Author: Mayra Herrera

Mayra is a senior transfer student at UC Berkeley, studying Political Science and Chicano Studies from Santa Ana, CA. She hopes to one day work in higher education, supporting and uplifting other students of color. When she isn't writing for Niche, you can catch her jamming out to Harry Styles, finding a new coffee shop to study in, or taking a nap in one of the many campus libraries.