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    Community College Vs. University: Here’s All You Should Know

    March 11, 2021 | Staff Writers

    Community Colleges vs Universities
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    Community College Vs. University: Here’s All You Should Know 

    For many high school seniors deciding on whether to attend a community college vs. university may be a daunting task. However, the entire decision depends on what you want to achieve as you pursue the path of higher education. 

    Community colleges award two-year associate degrees to prospective graduands. Some offer one-year certificate programs as well. The student population of community colleges tends to be local and older. Such colleges offer non-selective admissions. 

    On the other hand, universities have award four-year bachelor’s degrees and graduate degrees to prospective graduates. Their admissions tend to be more selective because prospective students should meet specific qualifications before joining the universities. 

    Transferring Credits 

    Many community college students tend to use their associate degree as a stepping stone towards getting a bachelor’s degree. Others may use the earned knowledge to begin a new career then come back, later on, to enroll for a bachelor’s degree. Still, some high school seniors may think that an associate degree is all they need, only to change their mind later on and decide to pursue a bachelor’s degree. 

    For some reason, it seems pretty obvious that some of their community college work should be recognized in their bachelor’s, but this is not usually the case. On average, these community college students lose about 13 credits should they decide to do a transfer. This translates to a whole semester of study down the drain. But does it always have to be this way? 

    The transferability of community college units or hours depends on various factors. Most community colleges offer programs that are meant for highly technical professionals that require a lot of training. Such programs have a common course that many four-year universities will not accept as transfer credit. Therefore, if you have plans of getting a bachelor’s degree, consider enrolling for a more general Associate of Science (A.S.) degree.  

    Also, most four-year universities are generally not committed to ensuring that community college students have a smooth credit transfer. Most universities have a credit transfer limit to the number of hours that can be transferred in. This ensures that the prospective students study a minimum amount of time at their new preferred university. They call this “completing your residency.”  

    Another factor that affects transfer credit is the lack of accreditation. Some community colleges don’t have proper documentation to certify them to offer specific learning programs. This means that their educational program isn’t quality enough as expected by the governing agencies. Very few universities will accept transfer credits from unaccredited community colleges. Therefore, before joining any community colleges, crosscheck with the governing bodies to ensure that they are correctly certified. 

    So how can you get the most transfer credit from your community college work? The first thing that you should do is ask your preferred community college for their latest version of articulation agreements. These articulation guides are specifically essential when comparing the transfer of credit and course content between different schools. 

    Also, always go for transfer-friendly bachelor’s degree programs. Pick a four-year university that has a seamless transfer of associate degree programs. Check out the school’s website to see if they are committed to helping students with their transfers. Be vigilant on the size of their transfer network. Schools that have large transfer networks are more transfer-friendly. 

    Before enrolling for an associate degree program in any community college, focus on their relationships with other schools. Always ensure that they have a well-written articulation guide and are genuinely committed to helping students accomplish transfer credits. Also, consider going for Associate Science degrees over Associate of Applied Science degrees that focus on only that one program you’re pursuing.  

    Degree and Programs Offered 

    Both community colleges and universities have a variety of programs that you can choose from depending on your interests. Most universities tend to be larger than the community colleges and therefore have a wide variety of courses that high school seniors can choose from. When you graduate from a university, you’ll be awarded a bachelor’s degree, or a B.A. or Bs. In contrast, most community colleges are smaller. Therefore, they tend to have fewer options that high school seniors can pick when pursuing higher education. 

    Taking just one-course class is common in junior colleges because 62% of students enrolled in the schools attend part-time. However, most experts prefer that students enroll full-time to immerse fully in the overall experience. Students who go for the full-time route can complete the required credentials more quickly and proceed to earn a bachelor’s degree faster. 

    Before you can become a qualified doctor, you’ll need intensive training and study. The path to becoming a doctor is tedious since it involves long residencies, internships, undergraduate research, and graduate study. If you want to become a doctor, you should be ready to complete at least eight years of study that doesn’t include residency and internship programs. The very least that you can take to become a qualified doctor is ten years, depending on your field of study. Attending a community college may be the first step if you’re want to become a doctor. 

    However, just attending community colleges alone is not a sure guarantee that you’ll become a doctor. You need to go through vigorous education and training to realize that dream. Students who are seeking medical licenses should enroll in community colleges that offer pre-med transfer programs. Courses such as chemistry, biology, math, physics, and other programs are essential if you want to satisfy medical school requirements. These programs give an overview of what you’ll likely learn in the first two years of a four-year school program. 

    Once you have been awarded an associate degree, you can then enroll in a four-year degree program to make you ready for medical school. Most medical schools have a rigorous admission process. Medical students spend the first two years studying and reviewing theoretical topics like medicinal law and medical ethics. In their last two years, they apply these skills in real-world interactions with patients. To earn your license when you’re pursuing an M.D. program, you’ll need to pass a three-part examination that is administered by the United States Medical Licensing Examination.  

    Once you’re done with medical school, you’ll need to complete a residency program that involves intensive research and thorough practical application. This process ensures that medics develop new skills and are flexible when implementing what they have been taught in medical school. 

    Community college students are expected to think differently than they did in high school. You’ll be required to wrestle with new ideas and use them to solve real-life problems. Students in community colleges should develop new mental models and follow detailed instructions. The grading system in community colleges is different from high school. You might not get perfect grades, but that doesn’t mean you have failed. The tutors won’t let your weaknesses slip unnoticed because they need you to know all angles of your preferred major. 

    Freedom brings an outstanding obligation to high school seniors. In community college, you’re expected to manage your time efficiently. Nobody will tell you how to use your time. The choices you make will have consequences on your grades. If you are a poor time-manager, you might lose a lot when you enroll in community colleges or any other higher education school. 

    According to the studies conducted by The Immunization Partnership, more than 4,000 Americans are diagnosed with meningitis each year. For that reason, most states require that potential college students be vaccinated before joining the school. Over the years, implementing such legislation has proved difficult for most states. If you are a student who values your mental health, consider going for a meningitis vaccine before admission. 

    Academic Quality 

    In the past, community colleges held a bad reputation for the quality of education they offered students. However, that has changed as more community colleges continue to chunk out well-trained professionals to the field. High-quality education is an essential attribute of any good community college. Any higher learning institution aims to provide students with proper training and equip them with the necessary skills and knowledge. This is to ensure that they remain competitive in the ever-changing world. Most states have put in guidelines to ensure that community colleges offer nothing short of quality education. Benchmarks are encouraged so that the community colleges can learn the secrets of the well-performing higher learning institutions. 

    Over recent years, many community colleges have undergone thorough scrutiny from the relevant regulatory organizations. The goal is to ensure that college students don’t come out with associate degrees that are half-baked. Private colleges haven’t been left behind either. Every higher education school is expected to meet certain irreducible minimums before they can operate fully. That way, the academic quality of community colleges isn’t compromised. 

    Certain community colleges like shortcuts. Such institutions end up offering unaccredited programs. Before joining any community college, crosscheck with the relevant governing bodies to ensure they offer accredited programs. Otherwise, it would be a waste of time and money to graduate with an associate degree, which is irrelevant in the market. The same should apply to students who want to enroll in an undergraduate program in a public or private university. 

    Multiple studies have shown that most students who transfer from a community college perform better than their university counterparts. This is because the curriculum offered in community colleges is just as challenging as the one provided in universities. The improvement in the quality of education can be attributed to the fact that most of them hire professors who have a doctoral or master’s degree in their discipline. The seasoned teaching veterans at the community colleges are committed to ensuring their students get the best education.  

    Most university professors pay more attention to research than actual teaching. In contrast, community college professors put more emphasis on teaching the concepts of their curriculum. As a result, college students get more attention from their professors, resulting in better performance than their university counterparts. 

    Moreover, many community colleges reach out to experienced professionals who work in the liberal arts, business, and science industries. Reaching out to such professionals give their students an unparalleled real-world perspective that will help them in their future endeavors. Most traditional four-year universities don’t have such flexibility. 

    Most community colleges have improved their education quality to match that being offered at the universities. As a high school senior, you should make a wise decision and pick the option that favors you the best. Always ensure to do some background checks of these higher education institutions before selecting the one that befits your expectations. 

    Cost of Tuition 

    Many students have the misconception that community colleges are an easier alternative to the traditional four-year university experience. However, community college classes are more challenging and engaging. Why is this the case? 

    First, most community colleges require students to have a general knowledge of math and English. This doesn’t prove easy to many students since most of them are older and have been out of practice for a while. Also, community colleges offer specific majors that are deemed essential. These courses are often technical and can’t be avoided. This means that you can’t earn your associate degree if you don’t pass these courses. Such courses make students withdraw from the program or do a retake. 

    Community college courses are designed to be engaging. Also, community colleges have unique assignments. Most of the assignments are determined by the major you are undertaking. The challenging group projects, quizzes, essays, presentations, and exams may be a headache to students who are not committed. You’ll have to pass a series of small exams that are spread across the semester. 

    Community college courses may be challenging than most students expect. But that doesn’t mean that they are impossible to pass. With proper dedication and commitment, you can sail through your preferred major and become the best in your field.  

    The cost of higher education tuition has shot up in recent years. As such, more and more students are considering rolling out programs in community colleges. Tuition fees at public universities can surge up to an average of $8000. This is even higher in private universities that have a lot of hidden costs. If you add other living expenses, the overall tuition fees may shoot to $20,000. Tuition fees in community colleges is half that of their private and public university counterparts. This is attributed to community colleges having small infrastructure and fewer extracurricular activities that hike the overhead costs at large universities.  Also, most community college students stay at home. 

    According to the National Center for Education Statistics, 8.7 million students study at community colleges in the United States. The cost of earning an associate degree has increased all over the country in recent years. Studying at a public community college will cost you an average of $3,660. 

    Tuition fee is the cost charged for your classes at school. The cost of tuition varies and is dependent on the type of school you attend. For instance, tuition costs in public and private universities are higher than those charged in community colleges. All higher learning schools have their tuition information on their websites. If you can’t find it there, be sure to contact the admissions office so that they can provide you with the brochure. 

    Community college tuition represents the amount students are charged for one academic year or semester. This may vary for schools that operate in a semester or quarter system. Such institutions can break their pricing per semester or quarterly. Your tuition may increase slightly every year, depending on the economic situation of the country. 

    Student Culture and Campus Life 

    Student culture and campus life in community college vs. university is different. Campus culture entails the combination of values, philosophy, and activities of an institution. It’s advisable to visit your preferred campus to better understand their admission requirements and culture before enrolling in the college. This will give you an overview of the tradition you should expect when deciding to join the higher learning institution. You can also observe students’ characters so that you can know their taste of culture on campus.  

    Your campus life can be so dull if you don’t immerse yourself in the various activities that go on in college. Take some time and join clubs and organizations on campus. You can also participate in sports to stay connected with like-minded students. For more fun, volunteer your time and interact with other students from different faculties. 

    University culture has more distinctive traditions that have been passed over generations. Most university students come from different parts of the globe. International students may find it difficult to blend in when they join campus immediately. However, with time, they can understand their campus history and incorporate the values that will enable them to have a smooth campus life. Universities have a more robust campus life due to their size, infrastructure, and extracurricular activities. Students who live within the university dorms have more time to immerse in their campus culture fully.  

    The community college culture is slightly different in most social aspects. First, the student population of community college is made up of older students who are probably working. The students also commute to school hence won’t spend so much time in school after they are done with classes. However, this doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy campus life. Most community colleges have invested in facilities like fitness centers, student centers, sports complexes, and theatre buildings. Take your time and visit these places to socialize and make new friends. If you love sports, immerse yourself in active sports programs. 

    Students can also join the various clubs and organizations within the community college. The only disadvantage is that you won’t have so much time to commune since most students commute back home after classes. Use the little time available to partake in extracurricular programs that will lift your school spirit.

    Nevertheless, student culture and campus life community college vs. university is dependent on what you want to achieve after joining your favorite higher education institution. Don’t be a boring student. Immerse yourself in different student affairs that you enjoy. Also, don’t forget to give your education the maximum attention it requires. You can balance your life on campus without hurting one aspect. Take time to socialize with other students and know their culture and traditions. This will enable you to interact with different people amicably without hurting their feelings or being disrespectful. Make your campus life the best. You might never relive the memories again.  

    Class Size

    It is common to hear people say that community college classes are easier than those at the university. Well, in the past, community colleges had a bad reputation for offering low-quality education. But that has now changed with the vigorous scrutiny that community colleges have undergone over the recent years. However, multiple studies show that community colleges have improved in terms of the quality of the education that they offer to students. In fact, community college students who opt for transfer credit perform better than their university counterparts.

    In comparison, the class size of community colleges is generally smaller compared to universities. Universities have a large population of students who come from different parts of the world. On the other hand, community colleges are made up of the local population. The small class sizes in community colleges come as an advantage. This is because the professors have a small number of students that they can easily supervise. Besides, community college professors emphasize that students understand the concept of the majors they are undertaking. Also, students in community colleges conduct extensive research on their assignments throughout the academic year. On the contrary, professors of universities deal with many students, making thorough scrutiny of student-work quite tricky. 

    Another misconception that most students have is that community college math is hard. Getting good grades in math depends on your attitude and hard work. If you don’t love math, you could join a math club in college. Make friends with those who are performing well. For math, the more you practice, the better. Also, ensure that you use the available resources on campus, like tutor centers. Build a strong relationship with your professors and approach them if you don’t understand certain concepts. With the right material and attitude, you’ll soon love math and pass with good grades. 

    Deciding on whether you want to join a public or private university is a personal choice. Generally, private universities have a small student population compared to their public counterparts. Private universities are funded by private donations, tuition, and other fees that students pay. On the other hand, public universities receive their funding from states and governments. For that reason, it is cheaper to study in public universities than in private universities. If you join a private liberal arts college, you’ll likely pay more than if you joined a public university. 

    However, student success is relatively higher for private universities because professors give students individualized attention. Before enrolling in a private college, ensure that they have the right credentials. Some private colleges are notorious for using shortcuts to roll out their university students. Such colleges can cost you money and time, especially if you graduate with an unaccredited bachelor’s degree. You can always visit the university and request a faculty member to enlighten you on the course you want to undertake. You can also do a background check on the institution’s alumni to see how they perform in different industries. 

    A college class can be made up of 100 or more students. The number of students in a class depends on the type of course. In general, technical courses tend to have fewer students. Private colleges generally have a small class size compared to their public counterparts. This is because they charge comparatively high tuition, thus attracting fewer students.  

    In Summary 

    Community colleges have come a long way. Most of the community colleges have shed off their bad reputation to become better higher learning institutions. Nowadays, it is easier to transfer credits from a community college to a university. Also, the degree programs offered in the community colleges are equally competitive as those of universities. The quality of education provided in community colleges has also improved significantly. The cost of tuition in community colleges is half that charged in universities. This makes it the best option for those who use an associate degree as a stepping stone towards the job market. Students can also have the best campus life in either community college or university, depending on their personality. Be on the lookout for new higher learning institutions that don’t offer what they advertise. That way, you’ll get the best education. Before joining a community college or university, ensure that you get the best value for your money. Always go for a higher education institution that meets your needs and interests. Take your time and join a university or community college that has the best campus culture. 

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