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university vs community college

Community College Vs. University: Where Should I Start?

community college dream university university Jun 09, 2022

Picking between a two-year community college and a four-year university can be challenging, especially when you aren't aware of the pros and cons. Some careers require a bachelor's degree, while others hire candidates with their associates. Today, you'll learn some advantages and disadvantages of both options and the benefits of a community college transfer program.


Pros of Community College



One of the most commonly known advantages of community college is how affordable the credits are. The average cost of public community college is around $5,000 for in-state students and approximately $9,000 for out-of-state students. This estimate is a stark contrast to a public four-year university, which averages $22,698 a year for out-of-state students. 

You can make tuition even more reasonable by applying for scholarships for college students, significantly reducing or even erasing your costs for the semester. 

Aside from saving you money on tuition, community college also prevents you from paying for housing or meal fees. Overall, a two-year school is less expensive than a university.



Another benefit of community college is flexibility. If you have responsibilities like work or taking care of kids, these institutions often offer night and weekend classes to make it easier on you. 

The flexibility also applies to your major, which most people aren't entirely sure of when starting school. Community college is a great way to test your interests while you complete your general education credits, and it sets the foundation for whether or not you want to proceed with your bachelor's or choose another path like a vocational school. 

If you're having trouble picking a major, you can always reach out to college consultants for help and guidance.


Smaller Class Sizes

Universities have substantial class sizes, and it can be challenging to receive a personalized experience. Classes are a lot smaller in community colleges, making it easier for professors to focus on each student.


Pros of a University


Campus Life

Community college lacks campus life because most students only attend class and leave right after. At a university, there's always some buzz on campus. Universities have competitive sports teams to root for, clubs to join, and new people waiting to meet you. There's nothing quite like making friends during college, and many students value the memories that accompany a degree from a four-year university.


More Access to Jobs

Many current roles require a bachelor's degree and tend to hire these candidates over ones with only a community college associate's degree. By having more access to jobs, you have a better chance of building your career in the industry of your dreams.


Improved Self Esteem

Many students have found that attending a four-year university increases self-esteem and aids in personal growth. This benefit occurs because you make connections with professors and students that will drive your career in the future. You can also find your independence at a university and build self-confidence by meeting new people and learning new things that interest you.


Greater Variety of Courses

While community colleges offer introductory courses and general education classes, they don't venture out to other subjects. At a university, you can take all kinds of courses. 

Arizona State University has credits for political ideology and comparative government if you're interested in political science. 

If you want to major in sociology, the University of San Diego has exciting classes like sociological theories and race and ethnic relations.


Benefits of Transferring to a University from a Community College


Painless Transition

Many students want to work on their GPA at a community college before applying to a university. This mindset is very effective. You can test out majors, decide if college is right for you, and efficiently utilize a community college transfer program. 

Starting with a two-year degree allows you to prioritize your grades and receive scholarships that may be unattainable straight out of high school. Transferring credits from a community college to a university isn't tricky. Make sure your current classes fit into your future degree program before beginning your coursework, and there won't be any issues.


Lower Costs

Taking this route allows you to save money during your first two years of college while also experiencing campus life. It's essentially the best of both worlds.


What Scholarship Can You Apply For

There are tons of scholarships available to community college transfer students, but a few include:

The Jack Kent Cooke Foundation Scholarship is available to students of all majors and can cover up to $55,000 of tuition a year. Eligibility is dependent upon your GPA and your financial need. 

As for the Herbert Lehman Education Fund Scholarship, any US citizen planning to attend a university can apply. The selection process looks at community service, academic achievement, and financial needs


How Does a Community College Transfer Program Work

There are a few ways that community colleges work with universities to make credit transfers easy, and it all depends on their relationship.


No Relationship

Transferring credits can be more difficult when a community college and a university have no relationship. With no transfer agreement, it is up to the responsible parties to check if credits are up to the university's program standards. You should also know how many credits your desired university allows you to transfer in.


General Articulation Agreement

This agreement means the community college and the university have worked together to approve specific courses aligned with the four-year school's programs. While this makes transferring credits less complicated, it can still slow down the process.


General Education Articulation

This is one of the best agreements because it ensures the university will accept all general education credits from the community college.


Degree-to-Degree Articulation

A degree-to-degree articulation agreement is the most sought-after one because the university will accept every credit transferred from the community college. While this one is infrequent, it makes the process extremely quick and painless.


Take the Next Steps

It can be daunting to choose between a community college and a university, but the decision becomes easier when you weigh the pros and cons of each. 

Now that you know what you need to do, it's time to take the next steps. Reach out to us at Clark College Consulting if you need any help. We're always here!


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