Community Colleges vs. Four Year Institutions: Which Pathway Is Right For You?
By: Taren Vaughan
Prior to graduating from high school, most of us began looking at what various colleges and universities have to offer. We look to see what majors are offered, the cost of attendance, social activities and many other factors. Overall, each and every institution has its appealing aspects to it. But there are certain types of colleges that people prefer to attend over others.
There has always been a question as to whether or not community colleges measure up to the standards of four year universities. Some individuals arguably prefer one over the other. But what is it that makes them so different?
One of the major differences between community colleges and four year institutions is the cost of attendance for community colleges and four year institutions. Taking courses at a community college can cost a person a couple hundred dollars. Four year institutions can have tuitions ranging from the low $1,000’s to well over $20,000 per year. This is why most of us are in debt as we speak. The downside to attending a community college is that most of the time, students pay for their classes out of pocket. Financial aid is offered to students who are full time. However, the opportunity for scholarships and grants is not as prevalent as it is at four year institutions.
Even though some community college students have to pay for classes out of pocket, the time it takes to complete the degree programs is great. It takes two years for a person to finish an associate degree program. Degree completion at a four year institution can actually exceed four years depending on your major.
In reference to degrees, a student has more of a selection if they attend a four year institution. Four year colleges also offer minors in addition to majors. Having graduate programs, medical, dental and law schools is one aspect of four year institutions that entices people to attend.
The chance for a student to receive one on one attention from their professors is higher in a community college setting. At large four year institutions like UNC-Chapel Hill, classes can have 200 or more students in them. The class sizes for community college are much smaller in numbers. This gives the students the ability to have more access to their professors if they have questions about their assignments.
Both types of institutions have their positive and negative components to them. Ultimately, the decision to attend a community college versus a four year institution is based on the needs and wants of the individual. A person can still achieve success with a degree from a community college of a four year institution.