College Versus University
Given the various considerations that have could exist at the time of making such a significant decision, many people some people could choose to go all in for a university degree, others could settle for the associate degree especially if it fits into the picture of what they want to do with their lives. Some students, however, have taken a third route they choose to have the best of both worlds: they attend community college for the two year duration and then transfer to a college and complete the mandatory time required to complete the academic requirements for the degree that they desire.
Comparison and Contrast
As it stands more and more, prospective students are going the third route and the discussion or argument depending on how passionate one feels about either choice (going straight to college or doing two years at a community college then transferring to a university) has arisen as to which is a better choice. With either choice, there are some advantages but having considered the facts from both sides of the divide, the option of first doing community college for two years is one that will be explored in comparison to the straight four year university program.
To start with, at the time of going to college most people do not have it settled in their head and mind what exactly they want to do with their lives, given they might have dreams and aspirations. Though, without the concrete resolution on the course one is to take in life, finding the discipline and mental resource that is required to last the distance in any given academic field becomes dicey. It is against this backdrop that the choice of an initial two year course in a community college begins to bear fruit. The community college, while providing education to its students does so in a manner that provides a measure of academic demand without the accoutrements of college (the intense academic pressure, the distractions of college social life and the economic demands of college education). This particular setting allows the student to test the waters or sample the different items on the menu without necessarily making any commitment to any of them in the pace of two years so one can know, to a greater degree of certainty, which of the options of academic pursuit best fits his/her particular talent set. In this time, he/she is in a better position to get the requisite information for the decision that they have to make about the course of their lives. Juxtapose this with students who go to college and change their discipline two or more times because they cannot make their minds up and end up having to spend a couple of years extra in college because they could not make their minds up or went for a discipline that they were not equipped for.
Moving from the relatively speaking secure life of high school is a big step up, so big, in fact, that it proves to be too much for the students. They have to leave the security and certainty of their homes and assume the responsibility of looking after their finances and their time, which they suddenly have so much, a number of them lose their way in college and might drop out or better still have to spend a few extra years to make up for early mistakes. If, on the other hand, they exercised the option of community college while working to earn more money to pursue the college dream, it would provide them with nursery-like conditions and invaluable opportunity for personal growth a chance to learn some basic life lessons, understand the requirements of academic life, gain a measure of focus, and an avenue to make a few mistakes without them having as dramatic a result as they would have been, had they been made in the full college setting.
Community colleges, for a myriad of reasons, have a lower popularity than the universities and this immediately translates to a lower student to a faculty member ratio, this means that with the right attitude and commitment the community college student is better poised to exploit more of the knowledge available to him/her in that particular settling than they would, were they in the regular fours year university (Community Colleges Outperforming Universities, n.d). In this particular instance, some of these courses, especially the sciences, require firm and robust foundations, in order to appreciate and assimilate properly the more complex parts of it as one goes into the third and fourth year. On the basis of this alone, the community college first approach is logically the best course to take because of more access to the teachers, the student is able to glean knowledge better from his/her professors and thus be better equipped to handle the rigors of the discipline that he/she desires. Disciplines in the arts like philosophy, psychology, to name a few, require a massive paradigm shift in thinking and logic. In the course of studying them, most of the preconceived notions, perceptions and ideals, that our understanding and appreciation of our world are based on, are challenged and it would be a colossal waste of money and time to study these courses without the requisite mind set, not to talk about how difficult it would be to pass the exams. Consequently there is a need to have a guiding hand to enable the student sift through the information they are given, processes them in the right way and formulate their own well-research and well-grounded ideas in the security of the community college because that opportunity for one on one interaction with the professors might not be available to the same degree. In the community college, this guiding hand is especially advantageous when the student in question has it in his plans to be an academic. The university typically is flooded with students, a single class can go from 50-200 students this number is massively smaller in the community college where there is a chance to develop a mentor protege relationship with the lecturers who can actually know the students’ name and maybe even develop a personal interest and take them under their wings. This kind of relationship is invaluable and is very difficult to develop at the undergrad level in the university because of the sheer number of students at the university. So a prospective student might as well take advantage of this vital opportunity (Advantages of attending a community college, n.d)
For those students who are unable to get into a university because they were unable to meet the academic grades, the community college ensures that their dreams of a higher education do not die. Most community colleges simply have an age and proof of high school completion requirement. The comparatively lighter academic load affords them the chance to boost their CGPA’s and gain some needed confidence. This provides determined students with a way back into academic life where they, knowing the mistakes they made earlier in their academic life have a second chance to redeem themselves, and earn by hard work their way into the college degree that they yearn for.
For an increasing number of students, every year, one of the major factors that makes taking the community college route to a university degree is the cost of acquiring a university degree. The cost of education has so gone up that no student can realistically have the hope of earning in the summer enough to pay their way through university even with a part time job. Statistics have shown that anywhere the cost of a university degree is twice or more times higher than the cost of a community college per year (Snider, 2012). Given that most community colleges are located in the home site, there is a chance of even more savings, plus the chance to attend school from home and save money on accommodation costs. In the light of this, it makes the most sense especially for students who come from not so well-off families or who want to avoid crippling student loan debts choose to attend community college for two years, acquire the associate degree, and then make the transfer to a university and graduate with bachelor’s degree of their choice. Then they start their post degree lives with little or manageable debt.
Although taking the option of doing community college for two years is appealing, there are a couple of downsides to it. Completing the requirements for the degree could take more than two years. Secondly, the university experience is a unique one, joining it midway works to some extent against assimilating the complete university experience. Because, in the first year, most of the students are neophytes and new friendships are made and established, some of these friendships last for a life time, and students usually get into the rhythm of things at the university. When a student transfers from the community college to a university, he/she has to begin to adjust to a system where other students are already participating on auto-pilot. In addition, there is the issue of a lack of a campus life at the community college.
As much as the community college is wonderful, it offers a lighter menu in terms of subjects that are available, so even though it offers a host of advantages the prospective student might be unable to take advantage of them if the disciple he desires is not on an offer at his local community college.
In any case, going straight to the four year university or doing the initial two years at the community college is the choice of the student. Each of them offers unique advantages. So students who choose should do so as best fits their condition and their long term plans.
- Community Colleges of Spokane. “Advantages Of Attending A Community College”, n.d.
- Encyclopedia of Higher Education. “Community Colleges Outperforming Universities.” College Atlas, n.d.
- Snider, Justin. “Consider These Options to Cut College Costs.” U.S. News, Education Colleges, 2012.