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University Now or Community College First?

Should you attend university right away, or start your course studies at a community college and then transfer?

If saving money is a concern, then beginning your secondary education at a community college will probably save big and reduce the need for student loans and other funding. Here's a look at considerations for both.

Attending a four-year university is taking the traditional route, and it's an experience that many college graduates will never forget. You'll meet plenty of new people and have plenty of activities to attend, sports to play, political and academic societies to get involved with, fraternities or sororities to join, and plenty of other things to keep you busy when you're not attending class.

But that stuff is secondary. Let's look at the real reason you're there - the education. A public or private university is big in every way, and will offer a vast array of degree programs. It's likely that you'll find the degree program you're interested in, and if not, consider the possibility that you just aren't sure of what you want your major studies to be.

That's OK, you'll have plenty of time to figure that out while you start taking your general studies courses. And once you do figure out what degree you want to pursue, you can rest assured that all your general studies credits will be good since you didn't have to transfer them in from another school.

Students fresh out of high school may find the transition to university classes a bit unnerving. Class size for introductory courses is very likely to be very large, so large that your instructor may never know you by name. It may be intimidating to ask a question in a room filled with a hundred other students, and getting a thorough answer may be difficult if the instructor is pressed for time with so many other students to tend to.

The cost of tuition, books, plus room and board is very high - so high that many college graduates with higher degrees spend decades paying off their student loans.

Community college
Saving money is the main reason most students consider attending a community college, sometimes called a junior college. Tuition costs are often significantly less at a community college than they are at a university.

You can also avoid the high cost of room and board by attending a community college for the first years of secondary education. Most community colleges don't even offer any type of housing for their students, so finding a good college close to home is key. Most major cities have a large number of community colleges to choose from, and even residents of smaller towns can usually find a community college or two within a reasonable driving distance.

Classes tend to be smaller and more personable at a community college than a state university, and you're not likely to get lost in a sea of students like you might at a university. Another great benefit of attending community college is a larger selections of night classes, since the smaller colleges tend to cater to adults who may already have the responsibilities of a job and a family.

Most community colleges offer a limited number of courses and associates degrees, as well as a number of "certificate" programs. If you want to further your education beyond the two years at a community college, you'll eventually have to transfer to a university to get your bachelor's, master's, or doctorate degree.

With the limited degree programs available, you may find that the college just doesn't offer what you want. You may have to take just the general education courses and transfer to university for your major studies.

If you plan to take advantage of the lower tuition costs at a community college for the first two years and then transfer to university to get your degree, then be sure the credits you receive at the community college are transferable to the university you plan to attend.

It's likely that most of your credits will transfer if you attend an accredited junior college in the same state your chosen university is located, but research everything to be sure. No reason to waste time, effort, and money on credits that won't transfer for the degree you want.

Community colleges may also be more likely to offer academic scholarships of their own, making it even easier to get by with less out-of-pocket expenses. Scholarships for maintaining a high GPA or even for getting a high GED score are not unheard of with some community colleges.
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Friday, 10 July 2020

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