The community college vs. university debate is one that continues to be talked about frequently among graduating high school students, families, and schools themselves.
Some people are under the assumption that you aren’t ready to make a commitment if you attend a community college first. Others would argue that you are taking the easy way out. Whatever the reason, there seems to be this stigma surrounding two-year colleges and their reputations.
I have to say that debating community college vs. university is a tough one because there are truly benefits for both. Honestly, it just comes down to where you’re at in life when you graduate high school. For some, a two-year school is the ability to figure out what to do for a career later on. For others, it’s a way to get some college experience, become familiar with the more intense curriculum, and to knock out any required general education courses.
Then there’s the ultimate discrepancy that comes out of any community college vs. university debate…. MONEY.
It’s no secret that going to a two-year school is much cheaper than a university and could potential save students thousands of dollars in the long run.
Community College vs. University: How to Decide Between the Two
For some, choosing between community college vs. university is going to be easy. For others, you are finding yourselves torn between which one to choose because you can see the benefits (and drawbacks) of both. If you are in this position, look through the list below and truly think about how you feel about each point and question. As you read along, try creating a list of things you are looking for, what is most important to you, and how you would plan on moving forward with each educational path. I hope that you will have some clarity by the time you get to the end of this article!
1. Is Saving Money a Top Priority For You?
This is a very important question, especially since student loan debt is increasing every year. If you don’t think that the FAFSA is going to cover enough of your educational expenses and you don’t have enough money elsewhere to cover the costs, then you may want to entertain the idea of going to a community college. Even if you only went for a semester or a year and completed 5-10 general education courses, you would still have a good start to fulfilling your dreams of being a college graduate… and you would probably have much less debt because of it!
2. Dorm Life: Do You Want It?
As you debate community college vs. university, you should note the importance of living in a dorm on your list of things to consider. If you want the traditional ‘college experience’ where you move away from home and have a roommate, then you may be leaning more toward going to a university. Although you could easily find an off-campus apartment near a two-year school, odds are that you will not get the same on-campus experiences that a university student would.
3. Consider Program Requirements
A lot of students start at the two-year level so that they can get some college credits and then transfer them to a four-year school later on. Although this is a great option, you may find yourself in a sticky situation if you decide to transfer out-of-state rather than stay in-state later on. The reason? Most two-year schools have agreements with the four-year schools in the area to transfer eligible classes. Out-of-state universities may not honor those same courses.
To avoid having any issues, look at the school and program you would potentially be interested in attending later on. Additionally, get in contact with an admissions associate at that school to see which courses might transfer.
4. Care to Show Your School Spirit?
It’s no secret that universities are more well-known for their sports teams than community colleges are. If you want to be in the mix of screaming fans in the student section at your home football games, then you may want to check out a four-year school instead.
5. How Were Your Grades?
This is a big one to consider in the community college vs. university debate! Be honest with yourself. Did you struggle to get good grades in high school? Were you barely hanging on to a passing grade? Keep in mind that college-level courses are going to be even more challenging. If you think that you need some time to adjust to the more intense workload, then going to a two-year school would be a smart choice.
On the other hand, if you felt that you weren’t being challenged nearly enough in high school, then definitely consider going straight to a university. The first semester may be a bit rough, but you like the challenge, right?
Community College vs. University: Final Thoughts
College is something to be excited about! I know this decision is a tough one for some of you. Remember, no matter which path you choose, you’ll be well on your way to earning a higher education degree – and that’s a big deal.
I encourage you to take the time to sit down and write a pros and cons list. Prioritize what is most important to you. Don’t let others determine your path because only you can truly decide which road is the best fit for you.
I’m not saying any of this from an outsider’s perspective – I’ve been in those rough decision-making situations and I know they aren’t the most fun to be in. Personally, I started at a four-year school, took a year off, ended up at a two-year school for a semester, and then went back to a four-year. It was a crazy process that most wouldn’t take, but it has helped me to reach new heights and achieve my dreams.
Still confused about community college vs. university? Have other concerns? Post your questions in the comments below!