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Community Colleges 101

Community Colleges 101

Your college search comes with a lot of questions. For example: what’s the difference between public and private schools? How can I get scholarships? How are community colleges different from four-year schools? To start, let's tackle the last question right now!

What’s the Difference Between a Community College and a Traditional University?

A junior college (also called a community college) offers courses or two-year degrees and are often attended by people living in a surrounding community. They’re typically non-residential, meaning students live with their parents or in off-campus housing, as opposed to dorms.

Credits earned at a community college can typically be transferred to a four-year school, allowing students to complete a bachelor’s degree at a much lower cost!

Are Junior Colleges for People Who Couldn’t Get in Anywhere Else?

Of course not. While community colleges often have broader acceptance criteria than four-year universities or colleges, so many people go to community colleges. Sometimes students attend because they want to earn a vocational degree, or because they plan to save money and transfer their general credits to a four-year school.

Why Do Students Choose a Community College?

For many students, a community college is a great option. Here are a few reasons why students opt for a two-year school before transferring to a four-year university or college:

  • Cost: Going to a junior college in your district will set you back an average of only $3,347 a year, according to the American Association of Community Colleges. Compare that to the National Center for Education Statistics’ estimated $15,022 at a public university or $39,173 at a private college. However, keep in mind four-year schools do sometimes award scholarships.
  • Convenience: If you want to be close to home, community college lets you stay close to friends and family while working towards a degree.
  • Uncertainty: Unsure of what you want to major in or where you want to earn your bachelor’s degree? A community college is a great place to start finding your path.

What are the Cons of Community College?

Community college may have its perks, but it isn’t right for everyone. Some students may not feel involved if they aren’t living on campus. Also, those who want to embark on a specialized major right away may not have that option at a junior college.

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