Community Colleges 101

In College Admissions on May 05, 2016

Your college search comes with a lot of questions. What’s the difference between public and private schools? How can I get scholarships? How are community colleges different from four-year schools? We’ll tackle that 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 nonresidential, meaning students live with their parents or on their own off-campus, as opposed to in dorms.

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

Are Junior Colleges for People Who Couldn’t Get in Anywhere Else?
We’re not sure why this myth is still going around because it’s definitely not true! While community colleges do often have broader acceptance criteria than selective four-year universities, that doesn’t mean they’re only for people who struggled in high school. Many, many people go to community colleges - sometimes because they want to earn a vocational degree and sometimes because they plan on eventually transferring to a four-year school.

So Why Would Anyone Go to Community College?
For many students, a community college is a great option. Here are a few reasons people opt for a two-year school before transferring to a four-year university:

  • 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 to cut the cost.
  • Convenience: If you want to be close to home, community college lets you stay close to friends and family while working toward a degree.
  • UncertaintyUnsure 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, and those who want to embark on a specialized major program right away may not have that option if they’re enrolled at a junior college.

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