For new high-school graduates and adults already in the job market alike, the question of furthering your education can weigh heavily on the mind. Should you enroll in a four-year university? Or should you consider a two-year associate’s degree at a community college instead?
Continuing your education either way will certainly enhance your value in the job market, but while both options have their benefits, enrolling in a community college may be the best choice for many people. Here are some reasons why:
Community college offers smoother transition for high school grads
High school seniors go from being a big fish in a small pond to being a small fish in a huge ocean, and this transition can be very difficult for some students. The smaller campuses and class sizes are a gentler introduction to college life, allowing younger students a better opportunity to adjust to greater independence and heavier workloads.
Greater individual instruction at a community college
Because universities are typically so much larger than two-year junior colleges, class sizes are much larger and personal instruction is less possible. This is especially true of most the pre-requisite courses taken during the first few years, which are typically held in large auditoriums. Smaller two-year colleges, on the other hand, offer the same courses in much smaller classes, with more opportunity for personal interaction with instructors and other students. Since oftentimes the instructors at community colleges are active in the workforce themselves, this one-on-one interaction with the professors gives you access to more real-world experience.
Community college prices are more affordable
Some recent sources indicate that the average annual cost of attending a community college can be as little as one third the cost of a year at a four-year university, placing a much lighter financial burden on families and your budget.
If you do not live in a major metropolitan area, then attending a large university may involve a long commute. However, community colleges are just that: in your community! The convenience of a closer location not only saves time and money in commuting, but also helps those who already have a job and are looking for a career change. Many community colleges offer night and weekend classes, as well as online coursework for even greater flexibility.
Targeted preparation for specific jobs
Attending a four-year university usually involves about two years of taking preparatory pre-requisites for your major course of study. However, at a community college you can begin training in a specific field right away, with more targeted two-year degrees that will jump-start your career much more quickly.
Hot jobs available for community college degree holders
There may be more well-paying jobs available to two-year Associate Degree holders than you think. Did you know that a dental hygienist, for example, can make up to $58,000 a year? If you don’t already have a career in mind, talk to a Career Advisor on staff at your local community college for ideas.
For a list of the top 15 highest-paying jobs that are available with an Associate Degree, visit: 15 Hot Jobs for Two-Year Degree and Associate Degree
If you’re undecided about the field you want to enter
Many people, especially recent high-school graduates, may not be quite ready to declare a major course of study. Since in general the first two years of a four-year degree are spent taking general courses required in many fields of study, it makes sense to take these classes at the less expensive junior college. After two years, if you have a better feel for the field you’d like to enter and decide to continue with a four-year degree, almost all universities will accept your coursework credits from an accredited community college.
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