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Community College vs. University: Which is Right for You?

Now that high school is over, it is time to start thinking about your future. For most people, this means finding a higher education institution to attend. There are thousands of schools to choose from, but before making a decision it’s important to consider which type of institution would work best for you. More specifically, whether you should attend a community college or a traditional university.

Collegeboxes wants you to have all the information you need to help you decide which type of education is best for you. To help you, we have provided some of the pros and cons of community colleges versus universities. 

How Much Does it Cost? 

The first major difference between the two establishments is the cost. Community colleges are generally more affordable than traditional universities; they will generally have lower and more affordable fees. The average community college tuition is $3,598 for a two-year program. 

Community colleges offer scholarships to local students, which can help many students make college more affordable. This is a great attribute for students who want to minimize college expenses

On the other hand, universities are generally more expensive than community colleges, especially for out-of-state students. The average tuition of a public university is $9,750 for in-state students and $28,386 for out-of-state students. Several universities will also require that freshmen live in residence halls, which will tack on room and boarding fees

Universities will typically have more scholarship opportunities, but the overall cost will likely be higher than at a community college.

What Programs are Offered?  

Most community colleges will offer two-year associate degrees, and some have 4-year programs, but those are less common. These degrees are to help people join the workforce right away or transfer to a university. The programs focus on job-related and technical training to help students gain practical skills. This helps advance students into the workforce and land a job down the line.

Universities offer a much more diverse and wide array of programs. They focus not only on practical skills but also on liberal arts, sciences, and more specialized degrees. These are mostly focused on research and academic purposes, preparing students for careers in the professional and academic world. Universities also offer the opportunity to go to graduate school and get your master’s degree, leading to further opportunities. 

What is the Learning Environment Like? 

A big difference between a community college and a university is the different learning environments. Because of a lower student population, community colleges have smaller class sizes offering a more supportive learning environment. This allows for more instances of one-on-one time with the professors, which can enhance your education.

Universities, on the other hand, have very large class sizes. Introductory courses are usually held in huge lecture halls, which can hold hundreds of students. This can limit the amount of time you spend with the professor. However, many of the professors are focused on research, which can enrich the material you will learn, and can lead to students being able to participate in said research, allowing you to dive deeper and gain a better understanding of the subject. 


How is the Campus Life?

Community colleges will generally have a less immersive experience on campus. Community colleges usually have less housing, leading to many students commuting to class, which lessens the college experience. They also have fewer extracurriculars and less emphasis on athletic programs, making school spirit a minor part of the experience. 

Universities will have plenty of clubs and activities for students to do when they arrive. They place a greater emphasis on school sports and encourage students to participate as much as they can. They will have a vast list of clubs and social activities for students to join and get to know some of the other students, leading to more vibrant campus life and experience.

How Flexible are the Class Schedules? 

Scheduling classes that fit into your routine can be a mess, but community colleges do not want this to be the case. The majority of community colleges will offer regular classes, night classes, and even weekend classes. This is to help accommodate part-time students or students with other prior commitments. 

Universities, on the other hand, will not offer such flexible schedules. They design their schedules for full-time students and expect a bigger time commitment from their students. This can make it more difficult to incorporate into your routine, especially with prior responsibilities.

Are There Career Opportunities?

Community College will teach more immediate skills for a job in the local market. Many have strong relationships with local businesses and the community. This can lead to stronger job placement programs after college. 

Universities offer many more post-college opportunities, especially for those with a bachelor’s degree. Attending a university can lead to internships that can increase your job prospects. Students with a bachelor’s degree tend to get more out of college, which can set them up for careers. Universities also provide alumni networks that can help lead to more extensive careers. 

What are the Transfer Opportunities?

The majority of community colleges have several transfer opportunities. Many community colleges have agreements with specific universities to create a seamless transfer. This is a great option for students to save money on general education classes.

Universities allow students to complete their entire degree in four years and do not need to transfer. If a student decides to transfer to another university, they will have to go through a different admissions process. Then they will have to transfer class credits, but some may not transfer, leading to more required classes in the future.

What are Admission Requirements? 

Community colleges are excited for people to learn. They will generally have an open admissions policy, allowing a wide variety of students to attend. Enrolling requires fewer prerequisites and has fewer barriers, giving opportunities to a larger population.

Universities have a more rigorous and competitive admission process. The universities require standardized test scores, GPAs, high school extracurricular activities, and usually an essay to apply. There are generally more applicants for universities, increasing their competitiveness and the need for a good application.


Do I Have Personal Reasons? 

Community colleges help you stay local and close to home, making seeing friends and family easy. They have a more diverse student body, allowing for the admission of nontraditional students. This can lead to unique experiences you would not get at a traditional university.

Universities will give you a more well-rounded college experience. For most students, universities will be farther away from home, granting more opportunities for independence and growing on your own. 

Whether you decide to attend a community college or university, it leads to great experiences and furthers your education. Whenever you decide to go, Collegeboxes can help you get there with ease.

With our Ship to School service, you will be able to pack all your belongings right at home. FedEx will come to pick up your packed items and ship them to a U-Haul near the campus. When you arrive at campus, Collegeboxes will deliver your items right to your dorm room. Choosing a college is a challenging decision, but choosing Collegeboxes for your move is an easy one.