Junior College vs Four Year University: Pros and Cons
There are several choices for post-high school education; junior college vs four year university provide just two of the options available. Before a person can truly narrow down their search for a specific school to attend after high school, they need to first determine which type of school best fits their current and future goals. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer. Let’s look at the pros and cons of these two types of schools.
Pros of Attending Junior College vs Four Year University
More Locations. Junior colleges are located in smaller towns as well as larger cities. This means that there is a greater likelihood that a student attending a junior college will be able to commute to college while still living at home. The savings on room and board while attending a local junior college vs four year university that is located in another city can be a big economical bonus.
- Lower Tuition. The annual tuition for attending junior colleges vs four year universities is always significantly lower. Usually a few thousand dollars lower than state sponsored universities and as much as 75% lower than the annual tuition fees for attending a private college.
- Smaller Class Sizes. Smaller schools mean smaller class sizes. Since most junior colleges have a smaller student population than their four year public counterparts, the teacher to student ratio is usually smaller also. This allows for more interaction between professors and students.
- Extracurricular Participation. The smaller student population found at a junior college vs four year university also offers less competition for placement in athletic programs and other extracurricular activities sponsored by the college.
Cons Associated with Choosing a Junior College Over a Four Year University
- Transferring to Complete a Degree. Unless your educational goal can be accomplished with a two-year degree, junior college students face the prospect of having to select a second school to attend after their first or second year of junior college.
- Lack of Campus Culture. Although junior college campuses do their best to foster involvement, the campus culture of a four year university simply does not exist in this more casual environment where many students will leave after a much shorter term than their university peers.
- Limited Course Selection. With the focus primarily on general courses and two-year bachelor degrees which can quickly propel an individual into the workforce, the course selection at a junior college may seem a bit limited compared to diversity available at the university level.
- Resume Prestige. How much an alma mater will influence job prospects and graduate school applications is difficult to judge, but for some professions, four years at the right university can carry more weight than an education split between a junior college and a four year university.
With the Bureau of Labor Statistics reporting an increase in unemployment among the 16 to 24 age range, choosing the career education that is most likely to deliver a paying position upon graduation will be a big consideration for most individuals assessing their options. The need to keep college debt at a minimum is also a heavy driving force among students and their parents. It will be important for all the positives and negatives to be weighed in making these decisions.
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