Community college or four-year university?

Pro: Power to transfer students

Written by Jesse Bertel

Community college is the best pathway because of its long history of proven career success in a short amount of time. Despite the rising cost of four-year universities, community colleges remain affordable.

It doesn’t make any sense to waste money and time going straight to a university after high school, especially for people who aren’t yet sure that they want to commit six years or more to an academic pursuit.

Community college is a great place to figure out what career path to pursue without the pressure of deciding on a degree plan immediately.

Unlike the long, tedious journey of pursuing a four-year degree, community colleges offer fast and effective pathways to a career.

In only two years or less, students can earn certificates in nursing, mechanics or any other of the programs. They can be working in one of these technical fields without having to spend six years or more in pursuit of a higher degree.

Community colleges were originally referred to as junior colleges, but now that term is usually reserved for private two-year colleges. In the early 1900s, community colleges began springing up all over the country and continued to expand through the depression and cold war eras as a way to strengthen a much-needed workforce.

For many people, community colleges are the only option for achieving academic success. By providing access to college, training and retraining for people who would otherwise be unable to attend a university, community colleges preserve the academic needs of society.

Without them, higher learning would be out of reach for average Americans and would be limited to privileged families. For this reason, community colleges have become the backbone of academic access for working class people in this country.

Community colleges are also successful because of the tight-knit community which gives professors more opportunity to have a hand in student development. Unlike a larger setting of a university where both students and professors are overwhelmed, community colleges make it easier to get valuable one-on-one time between the teacher and the student that makes a major difference in academic success.

According to Forbes, students who transfer to a university from a community college are more likely to graduate than students who transfer from a high school or from another university. The graduation rate for students who transfer to a university from a community college is 75 percent in six years, versus 73 percent for high school transfers and 61 percent for transfers from another university.

Universities cost more, take longer and don’t necessarily guarantee a career. Even after spending four years or more at a university, there is still no guarantee that the degree earned will result in a job.

On the other hand, community colleges offer a wide array of career opportunities, such as GEDs, remedial education, high school degrees, technical degrees and certificates. Some even offer a limited number of four-year degrees.

Community colleges are a better pathway for academic success, and for many people, the only pathway accessible.

 

Con: Straight to the finish line

Written by Abdul Ali

To most people, saving money is a major factor in decision-making. But with something as important as education, there are more important factors at play.

The idea that going to a community college is the same as going to a university is just wrong.

A study in 2010 done by the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center showed that just 16 percent of students who began their education at a community college successfully wrapped up their degree at a four-year school by spring 2016.

The same study compared students that did attend a four-year public university and 62.4 percent of students completed their degree within six years. For those who attended a private four year university that number went up to about 74 percent.

Investing the time and energy in high school to explore university options can give students a heardstart in achieving higher education. These students will be able to skip community college altogether and avoid the risk of  getting stuck taking too many units.

There is a misconception that going to a community college will allow you the same opportunities as going to a four-year university when that’s just not entirely accurate.

According to an article done by insider higher ed in 2012, only one in five students enrolled in community college transferred to a four-year university.

One area we have to pay attention to is the curriculum in both junior colleges and four-year institutions.

For people who know exactly what it is that they want to do in life, going to a four-year would benefit them greatly because there are classes offered at universities that cover more specific subjects more thoroughly than junior colleges do.

Along with more specified classes, internship and job opportunities seem to be easier to obtain on the campuses of four-year universities.

Another aspect to look at would be the workload. At junior colleges, the workload tends to be much lighter and while some students may think that’s a good thing, for others adjusting to the workload later may be very difficult.

A main advantage in universities is that they typically offer larger merit-based scholarships and financial aid packages. These grants can make a difference in a student’s ability to even attend college. There are frequently many students who rely on financial aid and scholarships entirely.

One of the biggest and most useful parts of going to college is developing social skills and connections. Without a doubt going to a four-year university allows for more growth as well as many more connections.

When students begin in a four-year university and know their major, they have the opportunity to meet graduating students in that same major as well as connect with them and high ranking professors.

It may also be socially harder to attend a university after going to a junior college because of everyone seemingly knowing everyone already.

Leaving home at a earlier age also helps with growth and teaches responsibility, which is a character trait needed to be successful at a university.

Overall, the lack of opportunities combined with the lack of students transferring and being successful in a university should be enough to make people understand that going straight to a four-year institution is just an overall better option.