Criminal Justice Degrees Guide

How is a Community College Different from a Traditional University?

When students decided to take the step of earning a college degree, many are confused about whether to attend a community college or a traditional university. What is the difference between the two and which is best for you? Both community colleges and traditional universities have their pros and cons. But it’s up to you to find out which one suits your needs and future plans the best.

Community or junior colleges are generally much smaller than traditional universities. They have smaller campuses with a smaller enrollment of students and faculty and smaller budgets. This can mean a more close-knit community of people, less likelihood of getting lost on campus, and a smaller student to professor ratio. But this could also mean that there are fewer amenities available to use and much less financial aid available. For examples, instead of having access to several large research libraries with cutting-edge technology at larger universities, community colleges will typically have one library for all students to share.

Also, community colleges are unable to issue four-year degrees. These colleges offer students certificate programs, technical and vocational training and two-year associate’s degrees. And because attending a community college can be significantly cheaper than a traditional university, many people choose to attend a community college for the first two years of a bachelor’s degree program, and then transfer to the university of their choice to complete their degree. Just remember to speak with college staff to ensure that the classes you take can in fact transfer to that particular university.

Traditional universities also typically have more stringent admissions requirements. With so many applicants each year and so few open positions, they are able to be very selective with their admittance policies. Most community colleges only require a high school diploma to enroll, while larger universities can require standardized test scores, letters of recommendation, personal essays, good grades and involvement in extracurricular activities.

Community colleges have gained in popularity over the years. In fact, more than half of all first year college students receive their first collegiate experience at community colleges. And with the struggling economy and rising unemployment rates, less people have the disposable income to afford a large university. So, if you enjoy a smaller educational community and you are interested in earning a certificate or associates degree, a community college might be the right place for you.

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