Community vs. Other Colleges

With so many higher education options, we compare community colleges against other institutions to help you find the best option for your needs. We’ll look at how community colleges are outperforming 4-year schools, study the latest data on the ROI of community colleges and explore why more students are turning to them.
View the most popular articles in Community vs. Other Colleges:
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Community College Provides Straight Career Path - Better than Four Year Colleges?
53.6% of people with bachelor’s degrees under the age of 25 are unemployed. Can community colleges be the answer? We analyze how innovative community colleges are beginning to lead the way on training students for in-demand, future careers.
Community colleges have experienced a mixed reputation over their 100-year history. On the one hand, these institutions have been traditionally viewed as the lesser choice in higher education. Other opinions have elevated these schools to the most direct way to train for the job market.  Which view is more accurate? Today, the latter appears to be a more prevalent one, particularly in light of the fact that many four-year schools are now trying to capitalize on the same features community colleges have boasted since the very beginning.

Career Training Begins at Community College

Since their inception, community colleges have been focused on vocational training. According to a report at the Times Herald-Record, these schools were originally created in the early part of the 20th century for the sole purpose of getting people into the workforce as quickly as possible. Fraternizing with academics and dabbling in philosophical thought processes were seen as counterproductive in this model of higher education.

This video from the Urban Institute discusses advancement along a career pathway at community college.

While community colleges might have met their goals from a vocational standpoint, their singular focus also may have gained them a reputation as less academic schools than four-year colleges and universities. Those who wanted the true higher education experience would venture into the hallowed halls of those institutions perceived as factories for intellectuals and philosophers. However, when jobs become scarce and industries begin to fizzle, the practical application of higher education becomes
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8 Reasons Why Community College Might be the Best Choice After High School
Should you go to community college or a four-year institution upon graduating from high school? The reasons for choosing community college first may be more compelling than you currently believe.
As the cost of tuition continues to increase at institutions of higher education across the country, many students are considering a transition to community college once they earn their high school diploma. Although these schools were once considered below par in terms of postsecondary education, the quality provided by many community colleges has been on track with many four-year schools today. The focus on community colleges by the Obama Administration has resulted in additional funding and industry-focused training that increases employment opportunities once the degree is earned. We have eight reasons why community college might be the best choice for some high school graduates.
 
 

Affordability

Although tuition is getting more expensive across the board, community colleges are still significantly more affordable than most four-year institutions. The average annual rate to attend a four-year university could run as high as $30,000 or more, while the annual tuition at a community college probably won’t cost much more than $5,000. In addition, many community college students continue to live at home while taking classes, saving money on room and board as well. 

Based upon our prior calculations comparing a community college with a private four-year university, you could end up saving $80,000 by attending community college for two years first

With more affordable prices overall, community college students often find they can foot the bill for their education without having to take on a significant amount of debt prior to graduation. Considering that many
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Why More Students are Choosing Community Colleges over Traditional Four-Year Schools
Community colleges are quickly becoming a key competitor against four year universities – and for many good reasons! Learn about why more students are opting to enroll in their local community college, rather than going straight to four year institutions.
In the past, four-year universities always seemed to carry more prestige and practical professional preparation than their two-year counterparts. However, as prices for universities continue to rise and community colleges expand their fields of study and improve their quality, the field of higher education appears to be changing. Today, community college enrollment is increasing exponentially at schools across the country, while four-year institutions have seen a small drop in student population within the past year. We’ll take a look at the numbers and explore some of the reasons why more students might be choosing to go to community college today.
 
Changing Times or One-Time Blip?
 
According to a recent story in the Courier-News, national college enrollment figures dropped last year by about two percentage points. While a single-year statistic is nothing to write home about, many financial experts see this downturn as the beginning of a trend – the burst of the bubble on higher education. Some attribute the lower enrollment to fewer jobs and higher tuition rates that make parents and students alike question the real value of a bachelor’s degree today.
 
At the same time, enrollment numbers for many community colleges across the country continue to rise. And enrollment isn’t the only statistic that is going up. The Courier-News also reported that Waubonsee Community College in Illinois graduated its largest class in history this past spring. Elgin Community College followed suit with their most recent graduating class. 
 
Waubonsee spokeman Jeff Noblitt told the Courier-News,
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Community Colleges vs. State Schools: Which One Results in Higher Salaries?
A recent report found that graduates from Florida community colleges earned more than their state university counterparts. Learn more about the interesting results and their implications for your future earnings.
Since he took office, President Obama has been pushing to raise the community college graduation rate as an answer to our currently sluggish workforce and economy. A recent study on the earnings of college grads proves that the president might be right on track – at least in the state of Florida. The study, reported in the Miami Herald, shows that community college graduates tend to earn a higher average salary after school than students graduating from state universities.
 
What the Numbers Show
 

According to figures that were included in a report to the Florida State Board of Education Meeting held in December, community college graduates who earned associate in science degrees from Florida community colleges earned an average annual salary of $47,708 right out of school. By the same token, students who graduated from one of the state's 11 public university earned an average annual salary of just $36,552. The difference, around $11,000 per year, is not insignificant for those just starting out in the professional world, particularly those who might be graduating with a decent amount of student debt.

Graduates of vocational programs offered through community colleges also seemed to do well after graduation, with much less time invested up front. According to a report at Community College Spotlight, students who graduated from programs that took six months or less to complete earned an average annual salary of $37, 356. Those who completed certificate training in a specific industry earned an average $39,108 per year.
 
Edwin Koc, director
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Taking the Honors Track at Community College vs. a Regular Four-Year College Path
Valedictorians and honors students are increasingly choosing honors programs at community colleges instead of four-year institutions after graduating from high school. Learn about the trends and benefits of taking the honors track at a community college before transferring to a four-year institution.
The face of college education in America is changing, especially on community college campuses. While community colleges were once unfairly labeled as “13th grade,” these two-year institutions now provide plentiful opportunities for high-achieving students to challenge themselves.  Indeed, a growing number of high school valedictorians and honors students are enrolling in community colleges afterhigh school
 
Community Colleges Increasingly Serving the Best and the Brightest
 
Prompted in part by economic concerns, a number of top high school students are choosing to forego enrollment at prestigious four-year universities in favor of spending their first two years in an honors program at a community college.  Indeed, the savings can be dramatic, and these students can save $80,000 by attending community college first, instead of a private college.  
 
These honors programs, most of which are highly selective and academically rigorous, are designed to provide academically talented students with intellectual challenges for an affordable price, and they are more popular now than they have ever been.

Honors Programs at Two-Year Colleges Are Thriving

A recent article in the Washington Post reported that applications to community college honors programs are growing at a quicker rate than general applications, which are also on the rise. Honors programs of particular note include:

* The Montgomery Scholars program of Maryland's Montgomery College. This highly selective program, which is ten years old, has only 25 seats available and received a record 275 applications for Fall 2009, according to the Post.
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Community vs. Other Colleges