Last Updated on March 11, 2021 by Filip Poutintsev
A community college also referred to as a junior college or technical college, is a tax-payer supported two-year institution of higher education. The purpose of community college is for students to get a faster, less expensive post-secondary education than by going to a 4-year college or University.
Typically, a community college is nonresidential and supported locally or by the state government. They usually offer two-year programs and award associate degrees. Credit and degrees often transfer from community colleges to four-year colleges or universities. In this process, you earn a bachelor’s degree with two years of community college, followed by two years of university study.
This concept of community college used to be unique to the United States, however, it has gained popularity throughout the world in recent years. Usually, community colleges are designed to serve local communities. Community colleges offer a level of accessibility—in terms of time, finances, and geography—that cannot be found at private universities.
Community colleges are a great option for those students who can’t make it to graduate colleges or who aren’t ready to make a full-time commitment to the college. Community college offers flexible options for students who may have struggled in high school or who took a long break from school.
Generally, community college students often work while pursuing their studies. Community colleges offer flexible course schedules to accommodate students’ lives outside of school. Many of the subjects taught in a four-year college are also available in a community college. Community colleges are accessible to everyone no matter your GPA, gender, major, age, or financial status.
Pros and Cons Of Community College
There are many good reasons to attend a community college before transferring to a four-year university, despite a few drawbacks. Apart from financial advantages, community college is where you can explore your career options more thoroughly. Below are some major pros and cons of community colleges:
Pros of Community College
1. Cheaper Tuition Fee
One of the most common reasons that people are afraid to pursue higher education is that college is expensive. A community college offers many subjects that a four-year university does at a reasonable price. For students who begin their higher education at a community college and transfer to a university, the cost is significantly reduced.
Compared to the price of tuition at in-state public universities, students can save 50% or more on their educational costs for the first 2 years of their undergraduate degree. Some community colleges also offer bachelor degrees, so you need not transfer your credit to a university.
2. Flexible Hours
Community colleges offer more flexibility for students needing to work outside of school. Community colleges have a very flexible schedule to accommodate students’ lives outside of school.
They offer far more night classes and online courses than traditional colleges. The workload is generally lighter than the private college/university and attendance isn’t so important. Community colleges enable students to pursue their education while keeping up with other responsibilities.
3. Helps Students Explore Different Career Choices
Community college program helps to explore different career options. Community colleges and their relatively low tuition fees allow students to explore what their future could be.
The community college also offers some of the program courses taught in universities like pre-law, pre-med, or engineering programs. Therefore students get enough time to pick a major they are interested in and also helps to pick the appropriate school to peruse that course/major.
4. Smaller Class Size
The sizes of the classes are also usually smaller at community colleges than it is at a traditional college or university. Most classes at community college usually have an average of 20 students, making faculty members more available.
Student-Professor interaction is greater in a small-sized class and students get personalized attention. This helps to boost the academic performance of students.
5. Easier Admission Requirements
Community colleges do not have difficult GPA requirements and usually do not require ACT or SAT scores. They provide a higher education opportunity for applicants who didn’t earn good grades in high school as well as applicants who have been out of school for years. However, most community colleges require you to take a test to determine your academic strengths and weakness to determine what class you can enrol in.
6. Helps in Boosting Academics
Universities usually do not accept students with poor grades. Joining community college provides you with an opportunity to improve your grades before applying to a four-year program. With smaller class sizes and dedicated teaching faculty, community college can provide a better environment for boosting academics. The support at community college can give students the credentials they need to get admitted to a four-year school.
Cons Of Community College
1. Non-Transferrable Credits
Some courses are taught at a community college that is not accepted by the university. Transferring credits can sometimes be a problem, as each four-year college has its requirements for enrollment and the university may think that the level of learning is not sufficient to accept it as an equivalent. Students should always consult the college they intend to attend next to make sure that the courses at the community college level are compatible with the core requirements for the university.
2. Less Workload
The workload at community college is significantly lighter than at a private college or state university and classes are less rigorous. The academic and career resources that other public and private institutions often provide might not be available to as great an extent at a community college. The smaller class size is also a factor behind the lighter workload and most of the student’s work comes through independent study.
3. No Campus Life
At a four-year school, the campus hums with activity and events. Community colleges often don’t have the “college atmosphere” of a university school because students don’t live on campus or spend a great deal of time there. The flexibility a community college offers can be extremely appealing for adults but also take away the campus life.
Most of the community college students study while keeping up with their other responsibilities. After completing community college, you’ll need to adjust to college life for a second time which could be daunting.
4. Lacks Campus Housing
Many community colleges lack on-campus housing, however, some rural area colleges offer housing due to an overall lack of housing in such areas. Most of the community colleges are built near the community, which provides students to save on room and board. Due to the lack of housing, the students are less participate in events, sports, and other activates at school. Lack of on-campus housing also fails to attract international students.
The above pros and cons will help you to know how community colleges are different from four-year colleges and can help students make smart decisions regarding their education. Community college can be a perfect choice for students who wish to save money and reduce their dependence on student loans.
If you’re looking to have a real “college” experience, then attending a two-year school might not be right for you. Although there are few cons of attending a community college in the first couple of years of your pursuit of a university degree, with proper preparation, you can save money and still receive a quality education.