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Community College Versus the Four-Year University

Immediately after completing high school education, many students are constantly faced with choosing which type of college to join, especially those who have performed well. However, choosing a higher learning institution entails more than just picking which university to join. Therefore, understanding significant differences between community colleges and universities comes in handy as it gives the students an easy time finding their most preferred institution. Many students often choose a two-year college over a university to save money and have better flexibility without considering other factors. Therefore, looking at the pros and cons of both institutions provides the crucial information necessary for making the most informed decision. This paper, therefore, takes a look at the pros and cons of community colleges and four-year universities. The paper will also provide a sound conclusion on which institution to choose under certain circumstances and which is better.

Several factors, such as the education costs, the time taken to complete a given program, and education quality, among others, play an integral role in determining which institution best suits a given student. For instance, cost cautious students will always choose a community college over a four-year university due to their lower costs. It is essential to consider the cost per year instead of the total cost of attaining a degree. The reports indicate that the annual cost of tuition and fees for two-year college is $3,440 for in-districts (Lobo, Bento and Lisa 79). However, the average annual cost for a public four-year institution ranges from $9,410 for in-state students and $23,890 for out-state students (Lobo, Bento, and Lisa 82). The cost is even much higher in private 4-year universities as most students spend up to $32,410 per year in tuition and fees.

Therefore, the considerable difference in fee creates colossal debate as to whether it is worth joining a community college or not. Moreover, the community colleges do not require additional overhead costs such as meals and housing fees since they are meant for students from the community who commute in most cases (Lobo, Bento, and Lisa 84). Therefore, the students will only need to budget for technology fees, health insurance, lab fees, books, and precise program fees. Therefore, community colleges are economical; hence, completing a two-year degree program in a community college before transferring to a university to earn a higher degree is worth it. When considering starting either the community college, it is critical to determine whether the credits and degree will be transferable when such time comes.

As opposed to the first two years in the university, community colleges have smaller class sizes. Many four-year colleges often have classes in auditoriums to accommodate a large number of students at a time. This leads to low interaction between students and the tutors resulting in monologue. On the other hand, the community colleges experience small class sizes leading to a small student-to-teacher ratio (12:1) (Archambault et al. 319). This makes learning more interactive as students can engage their teachers appropriately and vice versa. This makes it worthwhile to consider joining a community college since the student will have the maximum achievement of the learning goals due to increased interaction.

Community colleges also have a more straightforward application process compared to a four-year university. For example, most four-year universities have standard requirements such as taking standardized tests like the SAT and ACT, which community colleges don’t have. Most community colleges do not even require writing an essay for admission, for example, the Mount. The assessments are, in most cases, done after the admission as it determines the level a student enrolls in. community colleges are also reliable as it enrolls even the students who fail to get good grades in high school. The students can then focus on getting good grades in community colleges, allowing them to transition into their preferred four-year university, which would not require them to take standardized tests instead of those joining directly from high school.

There is little or no application fee required to join the community college. For instance, Mount college does not charge any fee for the application. This makes it more convenient as most students interested in joining such colleges only need to apply online in most situations, and it takes less than ten minutes to complete the entire process. On the other hand, many four-year universities charge an average cost of $44 for application; however, some schools also charge more than that. For example, the University of California San Diego $105 as the application (Andrews, Rodney and Kevin 31-65). The fees are non-refundable regardless of the outcome; additionally, the student will have to submit recommendation letters, SAT and ACT scores, a high school transcript, and a written essay. The whole process is hectic and can take hours depending on the four-year university one applies for.

Community college students also benefit from flexibility. Some community colleges are designed to cater to students who are working or have their own families. The schedules, therefore, allow one to balance between classwork and other activities. Due to the flexibility, community colleges offer a great opportunity to non-traditional students who are not ready to commit themselves to college fully (Roliak 227). It also offers a great advantage to those who have already started their lives and are going back to fill their knowledge gap since they can do so without moving to a new location. The students are also allowed to take the classes at their own pace. Additionally, the flexibility also provides the opportunity for those who took a long break from school or those who may have struggled in high school to learn essential careers. It also provides the students with an effortless blend in the community as one does not have to stay in the college while undertaking their studies.

Despite smaller class sizes, lower costs compared to four-year universities, flexibility, and easier admission processes, community colleges have some shortfalls that must be considered. For instance, the colleges do not offer housing services which may raise the overhead costs for students not from locality (Waters‐Bailey 84). Most students from far often opt to leave with the local hosts or may be forced to rent an apartment. After attending community college, one might also need more education since most only provide career certificates, associate degrees, and primary education. Finding a job with such certificates; however, it is much easier to transition to a four-year university after obtaining credits and associate degrees from community colleges.

In conclusion, since the community college is quite affordable, with two years degrees, smaller classes, and a more straightforward application process, community college is the ideal choice for high school students. One can save money and finance two or four more years of university education. Additionally, to ensure easy transition to the four-year university, high school students should always consider undertaking associate degrees in community colleges. It will also reduce time and commitment in four-year university. The concept will also reduce the rate of college dropout as many students will join universities when they are mature enough.

Works Cited

Andrews, Rodney J., and Kevin M. Stange. “Price regulation, price discrimination, and equality of opportunity in higher education: evidence from Texas.” American Economic Journal: Economic Policy 11.4 (2019): 31-65.

Archambault, Leanna, et al. “Incremental progress: Re-examining field experiences in K-12 online learning contexts in the United States.” Journal of Online Learning Research 2.3 (2016): 303-326.

Lobo, Bento J., and Lisa A. Burke-Smalley. “An empirical investigation of the financial value of a college degree.” Education Economics 26.1 (2018): 78-92.

Roliak, Angelina, et al. “Adults as non-traditional students in the tertiary education of Denmark and Ukraine: comparative discourse of structural, psychologic and pedagogic peculiarities.” Independent Journal of Management & Production 11.9 (2020): 2215-2234.

Waters‐Bailey, Stacy, Matthew S. McGraw, and Jason Barr. “Serving the whole student: Addressing nonacademic barriers facing rural community college students.” New Directions for Community Colleges 2019.187 (2019): 83-93.


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