Community colleges are often viewed as second-rate, low quality, and inferior to universities in every way—but how much of this is true? Community college, sometimes called junior college, is not what it used to be. In fact, many students who studied and earned degrees from junior colleges lead successful lives and have fulfilling careers–in fact, check out these five lucrative careers you can start with a junior college degree. Let’s examine the pros and cons of attending a community college compared to studying at a four-year university.
At a glance: Community college is a great transitional step between high school and university studies, and is highly affordable and flexible while giving students additional time to decide what they want to study.
- The cost of tuition is drastically smaller at community college. According to the College Board, the national average is less than $3,000 per semester, with many schools falling well under this figure. This is significantly smaller than the average cost of one semester at the university level, whether public or private. This ignores other large expenses of university study including books and room and board.
- Junior college offers very flexible scheduling options, including many evening classes. This is designed to benefit students to wish to work and attend school at the same time.
- Since community colleges are smaller institutions, class sizes are naturally smaller as well. Community college students are provided with more direct interaction with their professors and other faculty members, which is sometimes a rare luxury at large universities.
- While community college students pay significantly less money than university students, the quality of the instruction they receive is not detrimentally lower. This is especially true at accredited schools with close relationships to four-year universities.
- Junior college can offer a “second chance” for students who would find it difficult to become accepted at a four-year school fresh out of high school. Students aiming to overcome a history of poor GPA or lousy test scores can easily get their academic careers back on track with junior college studies—when viewed by admission boards as a transfer student, any sort of college credit greatly overshadows high school performance.
- Perhaps the greatest benefit of attending community college is that it serves as a transitional step between high school and university studies. This transitional step provides students more time to determine what they want to study in the future with relatively low financial risk and flexible scheduling. This greatly reduces the risk of a dilemma many college freshman face: figuring out they don’t know exactly what they want to study and, fearing they will waste large sums of money in higher education without a plan, dropping out of university with debt—sometimes permanently ending their academic careers.
At a glance: There are some critiques of community college, largely originating from the fact that it is most effective when used in tandem with transferring to a 4-year institution. To put it another way, junior college is not considered to be competitive when standing alone.
- Community colleges usually have limited curriculums compared to universities. Therefore, students typically decide to pursue a transfer to a four-year school to remain competitive and marketable when looking for jobs.
- Also falling under the transitional critique umbrella, workloads are significantly lighter at community colleges. The argument can be made that this doesn’t properly prepare students for university studies.
- The biggest criticism of community college can be the dichotomy that exists between students that do and do not plan on having an academic future beyond community college. This can cause tension in the classroom for both professors and students, as it can create conflict in regards to class discussions and expectations. Therefore, it is important for dedicated students to engage with their professors and take extra steps to get the most out of their junior college experiences.
- Community colleges often don’t have the campus life that many large universities do. Campus life is one of the largest culture shocks between high school and college, and community college often does not adequately prepare students for this aspect of higher education.
- Lastly, a warning: while many junior colleges have close ties to universities and transfer credits fairly easily, this is not always the case. If you plan to transfer to another school, check with an advisor and make sure that the classes you enroll in will transfer with you.
In summary, junior college is a great opportunity for students to cost-effectively acquire college credit without jumping right into the thick of the college experience. However, the answer to the question “should I attend community college?” is different for everyone. For more information on this topic, click here.
What do you think about community college?
The question that often comes up: Should I wait for a 4 year university and go straight into Junior college or pursue a 4 year university fresh out of high school? I plan on being a violin performance major (Yes you heard that correctly), and I’m not ashamed of it. Why? Because anything you do must be done with passion and even though I’m not sure if it’s the right decision, I’m going to pursue it. Money aside, if you start with what you love, nothing can get in the way of your goals. I came out of high school with an average GPA and terrible ACT score, so I was just too embarrassed to even talk about it with anyone. I’ve constantly struggled with my grades ever since I was little, dealing with inappropriate distractions and things that really took away from what I could have accomplished. The thing is, I took it all for granted. Literally everything. My parents spent an arm and a leg paying for my violin lessons and only now I am just starting to realize how much they cared for me to succeed. I was so selfish. When you see your own father break down because he only wanted the best for you, it hurts. I realized that this was not the way to live. I feel now that I must give more than what I’ve been given. Let me tell you, the road to success is NOT easy. Do not be discouraged because it is NOT determined by your past, but decided by how you improve upon it. And also, when you help others succeed, you succeed. If you have talent, inspire. If you have a gift, share it because let me tell you: you have the potential to change lives. Finally, It is NOT determined by your past, but decided by how you improve upon your aberrations. Only God can see your future. Our job is to see it through and take joy in doing it.
You see, as a violin major I find it extremely discouraging when my friends and even my family have looked down upon my pursuit. “You’re good” and “You have talent” they all say, but there’s “No guarantee of living” so to speak. You can’t get by in life playing a musical instrument on a street corner waiting for people to throw you money. I know some music majors that have changed their degree in 3 years before graduating because they simply can not find work and quite frankly, I can’t blame them. The world doesn’t run on music. (Sorry to disappoint). It runs on bankers, technicians, scientists, doctors, and the backs of the working and middle – class. To get something in this world you have to seize it. You have to take it all in and let it all out. In a world where brokers and accountants are roaring in high supply you can’t just go to someone with only a business degree because they’re gonna look at you like “Who are you again”. No, you need experience and charisma. Investor and philanthropist Jim Masterson once told me that everyone has a business degree in his field. Everyone shows up to the NYSE fresh out of grad school with an MBA, thinking that they’re hot stuff. They’re just a fish in a sea of fish. It’s not too hard for firms to find some JoShmo with an MBA but someone who’s passionate about what they do and wanna live up to it? They see potential. These are the kinds of people that can take a rod over their head and get back up. Maybe their salary was cut or they were fired. So what? They see it as an opportunity. Someone with a music degree and an MBA just looks better to a brokerage firm than someone with just an MBA. Don’t get the wrong message. I’m not saying people can’t get a position without a music degree or some other arts degree. I’m saying it’s the lessons you learn, not just the degree that will stick with you forever. The people that have worked so hard to get that MBA and are passionate about what they do will get a job. The people who want to help others with their passion will get taken care of. So that’s the takeaway. You must be passionate about what you do and apply it to more fields. But then again I’m just an ordinary person looking for ways I can help others struggling with these same problems.