I’ve been a student at both a university and a community college. Even though I first trod the university grounds at age 18, I decided to quit school and pursue bigger dreams, like moving away and experiencing life after high school without tangling myself in debt as soon as I became legally an adult. Something about starting adulthood with money problems did not sound very appealing to me.
Five years later, at the sweet age of 23, I decided it was time, for reasons I have stated in Single College Mom (go read that if you wish to understand). Because 18 year old me was brilliant and didn’t expect to ever go back to college, I had left university without dropping and came out with a beautiful 0.71 GPA. The university put an academic hold on my account and banded me from the school until my GPA was raised.
In a world wind of anxiety, I googled how to raise a GPA when a school no longer accepted you. I quickly came up with the only way of not moving out of state. Community college.
I was quick to sign myself up for the school and track all the classes I needed, how I could graduate fast, and transfer to university and begin Atmospheric Science. I began quick and hard. And for a year and a half, I was schooled in community college. I transfered to the university and have been there for two semester.
Granted, I only have experience with my towns community college and university, but this is what I have learned about the two.
University: Universities do typically have a daycare center, far off campus, but unless your studies are online, university is not idle for parents. The amount of homework and self studying is tedious and will require a lot of your focus and may take away from family time.
pros: Daycare center.
Cons: A lot of time is spent doing school work.
Community College: Community college seems to be built for parents. The have a daycare in the same building as you. Online and in class studies require minimal focus outside of class times, so having a balance for your schooling and family time is easily doable.
pros: daycare center. Located within five minutes of you. Less time on school work.
cons: Is there one?
University: There are so many people in university classes. It’s easy to be invisible in such large groups. And so it is also possible to never gain a relationship with your teacher unless you actively seek them out. To your teacher, you might just be another number or just a kid.
pros: Shy person’s heaven. Easy to watch Netflix.
cons: Antisocial nightmare.
Community College: With smaller classes, it’s easy to get to know your classmates and teachers. You are almost forced to gain a relationship with your peers and teachers. This makes getting to know your teachers easier. In return, teachers get to know you and will associate you as a real adult.
pros: Easy for people to ask questions.
cons: Shy person’s nightmare. Not Netflix friendly.
University: There are so many clubs to choose from. These clubs provide you with information and experience opportunities for your future career. You get to meet everyone in your major, and have a chance to hang out and get to know everyone you’ll be spending the rest of your four years with. There are also clubs that you can join that are not affiliated with your major where you can make other friends who share similar hobbies.
pros: Friend making. Experience building. Easy way to find information for future career.
Cons: Must dedicate time from studies and family.
Community College: Clubs are limited, though they do exist. It is harder to get information on your future career path in these clubs as everyone is most likely in a different major. It’s mostly to make friends!
pros: Friend making.
cons: No career information.
University: There is so much to do and experience. There are on campus jobs to keep you in the action. Although, if you do work, it’s not for long, and mostly evening shifts.
pros: On campus opportunities.
cons: Can’t work a lot. Evening shifts. Not likely to be excusable.
Community College: Community colleges are perfect for the working person. There are many night classes for those work in the day, along with plenty of online classes you can take. Often times, teachers will also work with you and your work schedule.
pros: Excusable. Flexible.
Cons: Not as many on campus opportunities.
University: There is so much homework! You will definitely need time to do it all. From my experience, I swear you learn most of your lessons from your homework than from your actual teachers. In fact, missing class won’t even affect you as much as not doing your homework.
pros: You can miss class in peace.
cons: A lot of out of class studying time.
Community College: What you learn is class is what you do for homework. You will learn more in the class than on your homework. Homework is like a review of the lesson to make sure you understand what is going on and ask questions about what you don’t understand.
pros: Less out of class studying time.
cons: Don’t miss class.
Univesity: pros: Lots of options. Cons: EXPENSIVE!
Community College: pro: Saves money. Cons: Less activities and class options.
I conclude saying this: If you are an adult with a family of your own, a job, or only want to take care of your business, community college is the way to go. If you’re young, don’t have a job or family of your own, or want to have a big social life, university is the way to go.