Deciding between community college and university can be a tough choice. There are significant differences between the two options, which are listed down below. Before committing, one must first explore the merits and drawbacks of each possibility to decide which path to take.
Degrees and Programs
One of the differences between a community college and a university is the available programs and courses. In a community college, associate’s degree programs can be completed within two years. Some may already get jobs with these degrees, such as for law enforcement or healthcare positions, while others may opt to transfer into a university. There are also short-term certificates and diploma programs offered by community colleges which target specific career options. Universities offer degree programs that usually take 4 or more years. These programs result in bachelor’s, masters or doctoral degrees. Universities also cater to a broader range of options, with several colleges for specialization.
Tuition and Expenses
Community college costs are significantly less than that of a university. In 2018, Community College Review approximated the annual average tuition at around $5,000 for in-state to $9,000 for out-of-state public community colleges. For private community colleges, the fees reach about $16,000. However, for universities, this value is estimated by US News at around $36,000 a year. Because of this steep difference, students sometimes opt to go to community college first, then transfer to a university after completing two years. This option gives the student time to save up while still pursuing their academic activities. The student should make sure, though, that the credits will be recognized by their receiving university. It is essential to consult with advisers and faculty members to guarantee that the work done during community college will be credited appropriately.
Due to these substantial price differences, many students choose to complete a two-year degree program at their local community college and then transfer to a university to complete their studies and earn a higher degree. Just remember that if you’re thinking of doing this, always check to make sure your credits and degree will transfer when the time comes.
Class Size and Campus Life
In most community classes, there are only around twenty students. Due to the small class size, the teacher can interact more with the students, allowing for a higher focus in discussions and exchanges of ideas. Lecturers are also given a chance to make lessons interactive with minimal effort. Since the number of papers to check and reports to grade is few, the teacher can provide detailed feedback and can further track the progress of a student during the year or semester.
In universities, classes often have large sizes because of the high number of enrolled students. In general classes, it is common to have lessons with around 150 other students. Sometimes, the number even as reaches as high as 300 students in one class. However, since there is a large number of students, campus life is present and active in nearly all universities. There are campus facilities, athletic and interest-based clubs, and organizations which are often not available in community colleges. In this sense, there are a lot more options for extracurricular activities in universities.
Ultimately, the choice between community college and university depends on each individual’s goals and needs. Community colleges are often deemed as more flexible and affordable, giving the student convenient academic options. Traditional universities are perceived as stricter and more expensive but offers more extensive opportunities upon completion of a degree. With these critical differences listed down, it can be easier to determine the path that a student would want to take.