Historically, community colleges were considered to be less serious academically than four-year universities. Even so, the world of community college has undergone a dramatic shift. As a primary factor, the academic standards of students and teachers have improved significantly during the past few decades.
The decision between a community college and a university is largely driven by your long-term goals for postsecondary education. For starters, community colleges provide numerous advantages. Tuition is less expensive than at traditional universities, and students have more freedom to plan their schedules.
Four-year colleges still entice students because they provide a variety of advantages over community colleges, such as better facilities on campus, sports, and more vibrant student life. Because of this, and as you’ll see, community colleges are reshaping the face of higher education by providing students with an unprecedented number of possibilities for earning a degree.
The majority of students attend a two-year community college to complete their general education requirements and get an associate’s degree.. Reading and writing, mathematics, science and social science are all covered in these courses. Following that, the general education credits can be applied toward a four-year college degree.
Across the country, community colleges have labored to ensure that their associate’s degrees meet the general education standards of most universities, particularly those in their own backyards. Because of this, students may now easily transfer credits between institutions.
Even so, you should double-check that your high school credits will transfer to your community college before beginning your studies there. See if you’re taking the correct classes by consulting with a college advisor. In order to avoid having to retake classes after your first two years of community college, you must have a strategy in place.
Over the past 15 to 20 years, community colleges have seen a considerable rise in popularity due to their increasingly high academic standards. Junior college associate’s degrees, as they were more frequently referred to, used to be seen as a step backward. In general, it was considered that academic standards were lower and that lessons were less challenging.
The truth is that students can learn just as much, if not more, in a community college setting than they can in a university. In terms of content and difficulty, the programme is on par with what one would find at a four-year college or university. Students who transfer from a community college to a four-year institution consistently outperform their university peers, according to a slew of research.
The faculty is a big part of the reason for this level of quality.. Most instructors at community colleges today have advanced degrees, such as a master’s or a doctorate. It’s possible that some community college instructors are younger and less experienced, but the vast majority of faculty members are skilled professionals.
There are several community schools that have reached out to professional disciplines like business and science, bringing in professionals who are actively involved and provide a perspective that can’t be matched by a professor from the classroom. These options are often not available at traditional four-year institutions.
Research is another important distinction. Graduate students may be teaching your general education classes at a big research university, so you may find yourself in a classroom full of fellow students. In many universities, teachers devote more time to research than teaching.
But research grants are not available to community institutions. Professors are expected to devote their time and energy only to teaching. They can devote more time and energy to each student, which translates to better results for the pupils.
Many students at community colleges believe that the level of instruction they receive is superior because of this, regardless of whether or not their professors have authored notable works of literature.
Small class sizes are another important aspect of the community college experience. There won’t be many large lectures with a lot of people in them. In most community college classes, there are no more than twenty students present. Rather than a one-sided monologue that is frequent in lower-level university classrooms, this allows for considerably more interaction and meaningful conversation.
Besides the quality of instruction, small class sizes also have an impact. When teaching small groups of students, professors are naturally tempted to enhance the quality of the learning experience by incorporating more active participation.
Professors are more readily available to students, and class discussions are more frequent as a result. Additionally, educators will have more time to interact with students as they will have fewer papers and tests to grade.
When compared to large public research universities, this is a bargain. Classes in general education resemble those in community colleges in many ways. In addition to the small class sizes, you’ll be required to sit through many large lectures with upwards of 150 people, many of whom will be taught by graduate students.
There are, of course, exceptions to this tendency, but it is becoming more and more common in colleges and universities. Grad school is excellent, but general education classes are less intimate and engaging.
Cost of Tuition
Tuition at public and private institutions has risen at a rate that has far surpassed that of the overall inflation rate in recent years. Tuition at a public university might exceed $8,000 per year. Private colleges and universities have much greater rates. The “sticker price,” which includes housing, food, transportation, and other costs, typically exceeds $20,000 per year.
Community colleges are far less expensive than four-year universities. It costs about half as much as a public university to attend a private one. In part, this is due to the fact that community colleges are more stripped-down and avoid things like extensive campus facilities and extracurricular programs that raise the overhead at large universities.
Although the cost of books and food remains the same, many community college students opt to live at home in order to save money. You won’t notice much of a difference in your living costs other than this. People are turning to community college in increasing numbers as the expense of tuition continues to rise across the country.
Another big advantage of community colleges is their ability to accommodate working students and their families. The fact that most students do not reside on campus necessitates the inclusion of features that allow for greater adaptability.
There is no better option if you have children or a full-time job than community college. Traditional schools don’t have the scheduling flexibility that may be found at a charter school.
More night classes are available and attendance is not required in most community colleges compared to the majority of universities. It’s up to you how much you participate and how much you get out of it.
Student Culture and Campus Life
One area in which community colleges will always fall short of larger institutions is in the area of research. Fewer funds are allocated to campus infrastructure, sports, and student groups at community colleges than at 4-year institutions. Students who want to have “the college experience,” which includes living in dorms and engaging in campus life, may find this option more inexpensive.
Community colleges don’t have fraternities or sororities, so you won’t find much of this culture there. Nonetheless, you may be surprised by some of the biggest community institutions in the country. More than a few colleges are putting a significant amount of money into facilities like student centers and dining halls.
The transition from community college to a major university might be difficult for some students. As a newcomer in a two-year-old environment, it’s easy to feel alone and out of place. For transfer students, many colleges and universities offer services that make it easy to participate in campus life.
To play sports but aren’t ready for NCAA Division I competition, you may be able to obtain more playing time and greater enjoyment out of the sport at a community college. Football, basketball, track and field, baseball, volleyball, and other team sports are commonplace at many of the larger universities’ many athletic programs of every size and scope.
While attending a four-year institution may be the best option for many students, the community college has significant advantages. Attending smaller, more flexible classes for the same quality education will cost you far less money. Some of “the college experience” will be lost, but you will save a lot of money on student loans.
Traditional universities can be a pleasant experience, but only if you have the financial wherewithal to do so. But if you just want to save money and acquire a good education, you can look at community colleges in your area.