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How do I know if a community college or University is right for me?

I don't know where I want to go now, so many people have different opinions and they're helpful, but, I am just getting more confused, can someone give me some tips on finding what is right for me? #college #undecided #career


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John’s Answer

Malu if you are wondering whether to attend a community college or a university, you should have a solid understanding of the major differences between the two.

Turns out, there are plenty of community college benefits, and attending one can be an advantage for you before they move on to a four-year university. At the very least, you can complete your first two years of your college education for a fraction of the cost.

4 ADVANTAGES TO CHOOSING A COMMUNITY COLLEGE OVER A UNIVERSITY

When high school seniors are deciding how to pursue higher education, they may not initially think of community colleges. But these schools shouldn't be overlooked. Community college is a great fit for many students, and often better than going to a four-year college, It can help students develop necessary academic skills, mature emotionally, and often lead to a more fulfilling, better-paying careers.

1.) COST – It goes without saying that obtaining an education at community colleges is typically far less expensive than a comparable education at a four-year college or university. In fact, many university students graduate having accumulated staggering levels of debt. So if you don’t want to mortgage your future to receive a good education, attending a community college might just end up being your best option. Because of the relatively low cost of attending community college, higher education is now available to individuals who could otherwise not afford the cost of attending a traditional four-year college or university. With the soaring costs of tuition, books and living in general, and a tighter job market a larger number of career-minded students and aspiring professionals are opting to earn their degree at a community college.

2.) ADMISSION – Community colleges typically have much less strict admission requirements than universities. In fact, many have open admission policies, meaning any person who graduates high school and applies gets accepted. However, certain community college programs may have stricter admission requirements, such as those in nursing or engineering technology. Universities tend to be much pickier when it comes to admissions, which means you better be ready to do more than just submit an application.

3.) CLASS SIZES – Also something to consider when deciding on a community college or a university. Universities tend to have much larger class sizes due to the amount of students that attend the school, and this can mean less one-on-one attention from teachers for you. Since community colleges usually have a much lower overall student population, class sizes are also much smaller. The average class size at community colleges ranges from 25-35, while classes at universities can have 150-300 students. If you enjoy one-on-one teacher attention, this can have a huge impact on your school decision.

4.) FLEXIBILITY – Due to financial constraints and a tightening job market, many students are finding the need to work while attending college. Hands down, community colleges are the best option for students who plan on working more than part-time while earning their degree. Community colleges typically offer a much larger selection of night courses than four-year colleges and more schedule options. In addition, class attendance is often not required as it is at many four-year institutions.

Ultimately, if you maximize your experiences who know what you may get out of community college vs a university. The first step is being aware of what you want out of your education and then, being conscious of what your institution has to offer Malu.

Hope this was Helpful

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Suzanne’s Answer

Hi Malu,

If you are uncertain of a future career path and/or college career, there is absolutely nothing wrong with starting off at your local community college. You can start by taking the required classes to earn your bachelor's degree without incurring the costs associated with studying at a university. As you begin your academic life in community college, you will have opportunities to explore areas of interest, talk to your peers about possible careers, become involved in campus activities and generally become comfortable with college life. You will save costs by hopefully living at home although some students enjoy working part-time and living on their own with roommates off campus. The per unit costs of community college are greatly reduced as well. These are all personal decisions. If you do elect to attend community college, make sure to develop a relationship with your academic counselor.

This advice is not to recommend community college over university, but simply to acknowledge some of the possible benefits. Below you will find some helpful advice. Please copy and paste the links into your web browser.

I earned my Associate of Science in Nursing from a community college and went on to finish my Master's degree while working! You see, anything is possible! I had a wonderful career and advanced to the top of my specialty over the years.

In the meantime, take advantage of any and all volunteer opportunities (even during the pandemic). Try to find part time/summer work. Explore your interests (music, art, athletics) and participate in those activities. All of these things will help you to figure out your passions and how you want to spend your work life in the years ahead. If you can, exert your efforts towards those careers that not only secure a good future for yourself and future family, but also help to make the world a better place. This will allow you to have meaningful work and purpose. I can't emphasize this enough; to work with purpose is incredibly important. It has to be very worth your time and effort to get up and go to work every day for your adult life.

I hope this is useful!

Best to you and stay well,

Sue


https://study.com/blog/community-college-vs-university-the-big-differences.html

https://www.educationcorner.com/community-college-vs-university.html

https://www.educationcorner.com/community-college-vs-university.html

https://www.careerkey.org/choose-a-career/how-to-choose-a-career.html#.Xs0scBNKi00

https://waitbutwhy.com/2018/04/picking-career.html

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Gail’s Answer

Attending college is expensive and starting at a Community College and then transferring to a University will save you money, this is especially important for someone who does not have financial support from their parents. This is what I did and I graduated with very little student debt. Part of what helped me was a scholarship the University was offering to students with a high GPA who were transferring from a Community College. If cost is a factor in your decision, then the benefits of starting at a Community College should not be overlooked. In addition, taking on a lot of student debt does not necessarily mean that you will end up in a high paying job. Best of luck to you, Malu!

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Riley’s Answer

I think the biggest difference between these two is your preferred living situations. Most people who choose to go to community college can stay at home with their parents and commute to school, which saves a ton of money. However, if you go to university you will have the option to live in a dorm and most universities will require their first-year students to do that.

The second deciding factor would be the tuition difference. In the US, the average yearly tuition price for state community college is about $4,00 ($8,000 for out of state); whereas the average yearly tuition for a university in Minnesota is $15,000. Keep in mind, this is subject to change depending on which school you choose but this is the average ratio.

Another thing you will need to consider is that community colleges are much less competitive to be accepted to, so you will not need to worry so much about your grades in high school. Considering that, when you will be applying to jobs in the future it will look much better on your resume if you attended a university instead of a community college because it shows more initiative.

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Kevin’s Answer

if you are undecided about your major and/or career
you may want to consider a community college and taking the
electives that will transfer to a college or university

guidance counselors can assist you in determining what the best courses
to take are (as far as transferring those credits to your future school)

I as I have been saying today in my answers
I would recommend taking aptitude test to help determine your core interest
and possible careers that match your interest

this may go along way in determining what career is best for you
then picking a college that has a good program in that field

Good Luck

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Poojitha’s Answer

I completely understand your situation! I recommend maybe taking a college class at your local community college over the summer to help you understand the environment. There are also options to take summer classes at a 4 year college which included housing - this will give you exposure to attending university.

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Jess’s Answer

There are definitely pros and cons for both.

UNIVERSITY:
Pros:
- Social aspect: dorm experience, meeting more new people
- Less transition time (you get used to the schedule - quarter vs semester system, the campus, the online education system)
- Independence (if you're not living with your parents)
Cons:
- Expensive

COMMUNITY COLLEGE:
Pros:
- Save money
- Lower-division classes might have less workload than those at universities
Cons:
- You're missing out on college experience
- You need more time to transition (when you first start CC and again when you transfer)

In the end, it depends on your situation and what you prefer. Best of luck!

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Angela D.’s Answer

This is a very important question! I echo Suzanne. Like her, I’m not proposing one direction or the other, but there are certain considerations regarding community colleges and transferring. Please see below for some food for thought. Really, it all depends on your goals and preferences. These include your chosen career/major/field, school size, housing options, urban/rural/suburban location, student life, arts/culture, financial considerations, and even weather (especially if you like the outdoors or seasonal sports like skiing!). Listing pros and cons will help you make a more objective decision about attending a two-year or four-year college. Then you have to research and decide which specific school(s) will potentially work best for you to achieve the aforementioned goals and satisfy most, if not all, of your preferences. Wishing you the best in your endeavors, Dr. B

https://www.usnews.com/education/best-colleges/articles/2017-09-22/transferring-colleges-10-frequently-asked-questions
https://www.usnews.com/education/community-colleges/slideshows/10-reasons-to-attend-a-community-college

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Edward’s Answer

Hello Malu,

If you're undecided between a community college or university I believe the community college route is an excellent option. Many years ago I found myself asking the very same question. I then decided to enter a community college with a major in accounting. After my first year, I felt very good about the school but no longer believed that accounting was the right major for me. Thus, I made a very easy to do transferred into a finance program/major. After graduating with my associates degree in finance I then transferred to a business university and graduated with a BS in Finance. It worked out excellent for me personally and for my career.

I wish you the very best!

Ed

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Brett’s Answer

Hello,
I would say the college/university that is right for you is where you feel most comfortable at the same time where you are able to major in the degree of your choice. For instance my sister found that going away from my hometown to a larger university so she could get her masters in teaching was beneficial for her. She wanted to move away, live in a different environment and felt the University after touring campus would be a good fit for her. Myself, I had a part time job, wanted to save money, so I went to a community college and when I graduated from there, I still wanted to maintain my job so I continued on to a larger 4 year school and was able to live at home and keep my job. It would all be up to your preferences. The school you attend and your experience while there is also about what you put in to it.

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Gregory’s Answer

Community college will definitely save you money and earn you an Associates Degree ( 2 year degree) as well. If your opportunities for scholarship money towards college are limited, community college is a good way to go. Just be sure the program/classes you take are fully accepted at your desired college university towards your Bachelor's Degree (4 year degree).

If you are able to get a fully paid or nearly fully paid scholarship to a University, then attending a University for your entire 4 years of study would be better. The university academic experience and environment is better than at community college overall. Remember that room and board expenses living in a dorm on campus at a university are nearly as much as the tuition. Something to consider.

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Brett’s Answer

Hello,
I would say the college/university that is right for you is where you feel most comfortable at the same time where you are able to major in the degree of your choice. For instance my sister found that going away from my hometown to a larger university so she could get her masters in teaching was beneficial for her. She wanted to move away, live in a different environment and felt the University after touring campus would be a good fit for her. Myself, I had a part time job, wanted to save money, so I went to a community college and when I graduated from there, I still wanted to maintain my job so I continued on to a larger 4 year school and was able to live at home and keep my job. It would all be up to your preferences. The school you attend and your experience while there is also about what you put in to it.

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Brittany’s Answer

There are certainly a lot of pros and cons to either choice.

I had the opportunity to attend a 4 year university which I would highly recommend to anyone looking for the 'traditional' college experience with various class offerings, multiple options for extracurricular activities (clubs, greek life, sports, academic groups, etc) and the opportunity to really immerse yourself in the on-campus culture by living in the university provided housing. Although this allows for an amazing on-campus experience where you can really get involved in different opportunities and explore what really excites you, the 4-year experience also has a hefty price tag on it.

With community colleges, you can often times still get a 'traditional' college experience but the offerings may be more limited than what you can find at a 4-year university. That being said, you will still find yourself with great course options, a flexible academic schedule and a more affordable education.

At the end of the day, most employers are just looking to see that you have got a degree (and even that is something that's being discussed as not 100% essential for some companies moving forward). You should definitely do some research into the factors that are most important to you in your college experience and then go with your gut!

Article about pros and cons of a college vs university: https://blog.hocking.edu/community-college-vs-university-the-good-the-bad-and-the-ugly

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Yasemin’s Answer

Hi Malu, I hope you're well! So community college and university do have some differences. Some differences are price, location and time span.

First, community college is cheaper than university college. My two best friends actually went to community college and saved a lot of money. One of my best friends did not get the financial aid she needed for her first choice university in NY, even though she was accepted, so she went to cc at our hometown. It helped her a lot in finances and she was able to take some general education requirement classes that she would have had to take at university paying more than half than what she paid at cc.

Location is also a factor, my other friend went to university with me, but she had issues with commuting and couldn't dorm the first year so she transferred to cc and was able to live with her family for two more years. She also got into the NJ Stars program based on her GPA and her tuition was free. If you aren't ready to commute distance or you want to stay close to home before moving out of the state for college than you can consider cc.

Lastly, time span, so cc is 2 years while university is 4 years. At the end of 2 years you would obtain an associate's degree while at the end of 4 years you would obtain a bachelor's degree. Even if you did get an associate's degree then the credits would transfer to university and you can finish the rest of the years there.

As a side note, when in university, you have to take general education classes, "gen eds", they give you a feel for different courses, especially if you haven't decided in which field you want to pursue. However, with that being said if you are indecisive and just want to take some courses for a couple years before making bigger decisions than cc would be helpful in allowing you to explore options. In addition cc is still a good option and when I took a summer class at a community college I realized how much structure there was with events, clubs and activities taking place. You can still meet some great people, expand your horizons and learn in the meantime!

I would recommend to talk with your high school counselor to consider some financial options, maybe visit universities and cc and see how you feel about everything. I remember one of my teachers in high school saying that how you feel about the campus means a lot in choosing which university/college you would like to attend. Best of luck!!

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Eric’s Answer

Hi Malu,

Community College is a great way to save money if you haven't quite decided what college or degree you want to attend.

If the cost of going to college is a concern for you and your family, there are options you can look into with regards to financial assistance such as loans and scholarships. My first year in college I was able to get a combination of both and I worked part time on school campus at the book store.

Hope this helps!
Eric

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Khrystyna’s Answer

Hi Malu!

You have to think about where you will feel more comfortable. I would do a research of few schools you want to go to and check out what groups, organizations, programs they have. If you plan on living on campus, then you have to take the whole atmosphere in to account.

Also, look at financial aspect. I am almost done paying off my student loans (finally) and don't recommend to anyone taking out a lot of loans to go to private school. There are a lot of great community colleges that offer variety of degrees and after you can easily transfer to 4-year school. That's what I did. I went to a local community college and transferred to a university after two years and all of my classes (max of 66 credits) transferred. It actually saved me a lot of money and it was great experience. I've done research before hand to make sure it will transfer etc, but it was all worth it. If I were to do it again, I wouldn't change anything unless I got a full scholarship to a 4 year school right away.

Good luck!

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Deb’s Answer

Picking a college can be very difficult. So much goes into the decision. As for Community College vs University I think it is helpful to be able to answer one question? Do I truly know what I want to study? If you don't know, spending a year or two at a Community College could be the right decision. Community Colleges are great stepping stones to finding the right University. Now if you absolutely know what you want to do, then focus looking for Universities which offer good programs in that field. Keep in mind Community College can be a bit less expensive to get started, so if affording college is something you worry about Community College is a great choice.

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Marianne’s Answer

I would start off by figuring out what you ideally would like to do or study and how that will translate into a job when you are done. You also need to know what your budget is for your education and what type of experience you are looking for. Get a degree and job or college "experience" or both.

If you aren't sure but know you want to go to college, starting at a community college is a very good option to get the basic credits under your belt. Just look into the ability to transfer those credit if you want to go beyond an associates degree. For many this is an excellent way to begin your college career. Then you can transfer to a 4 year school to further your education depending on your field.

Another option is to attend a local four year college (state school) that is less expensive where you could also live at home and commute. This drastically reduces the expense. It can inhibit your experience however you could always choose to live on campus maybe your senior year.

What I highly recommend is making sure you aren't taking on large amounts of debt for an education which will put you at a disadvantage financially when you graduate. Best of luck with your decision.

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Marianne’s Answer

I would start off by figuring out what you ideally would like to do or study and how that will translate into a job when you are done. You also need to know what your budget is for your education and what type of experience you are looking for. Get a degree and job or college "experience" or both.

If you aren't sure but know you want to go to college, starting at a community college is a very good option to get the basic credits under your belt. Just look into the ability to transfer those credit if you want to go beyond an associates degree. For many this is an excellent way to begin your college career. Then you can transfer to a 4 year school to further your education depending on your field.

Another option is to attend a local four year college (state school) that is less expensive where you could also live at home and commute. This drastically reduces the expense. It can inhibit your experience however you could always choose to live on campus maybe your senior year.

What I highly recommend is making sure you aren't taking on large amounts of debt for an education which will put you at a disadvantage financially when you graduate. Best of luck with your decision.

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Ariel’s Answer

Hi Malu,

Consider your long term career goals and take it from there. If you are unsure what you want to pursue or want more time to figure that out, I would recommend completing your pre-requisite courses at a community college to save money/ to figure out your passion!

Best of Luck!

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Desiree’s Answer

Cost is the first step. How much can you/family, grants, etc. cover?..

Then geography. Do you want to be close to family or farther away?

Then school type. Do you want a large school with large classrooms or do you want a small private setting.

All of these things can be obtained whether its a community college OR university.

I personally moved as far away from my family to go to a private college my freshman year to only come back and go to a small community college for my associates. I then transferred to a state university to finish my degree and commuted the whole time. I didn't want to live in a dorm and didn't know what I wanted to do either so I felt the community college was a good tool in figuring out where I wanted to go first. But, that's what worked for me, an introvert that needs to be close to home.

Good luck.

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John’s Answer

If you are undecided on a major or a career, community could be a very good option. You can take all of your core classes at reduced cost per credit (vs a 4 year school), get comfortable on a college campus and get exposure to different people / professors that may guide you to your eventual major and career. Good luck to you.

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Demetrio’s Answer

Depending on your interests or non-interests, your ability to pay for an education and your passion, you will have to decide. Research what is practical for you. Ask questions. Speak with a guidance counselor and the admissions counselors of a school you might desire to attend. What may you want to study? What is offered and what can I do, later? What is the best course of study for my interests? How does a particular school prepare me?

I know and work with many people who have graduated from a Community College as well as a University. They are all successful! Find out what may work for you. Interview the schools!

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Ashley’s Answer

Community College can be a great choice if you're still undecided as to where you want your career path to go. It can also be an option if you're looking to save money. Nevertheless, if you already know what you want to major in and have a school in mind then going right to a university could be the best option. It all comes down to what makes the most sense and fits best with your life and with you.

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Blake’s Answer

Hey Malu,

If you're uncertain about what to do, I would recommend the community college route. This will allow you to begin your collegiate career, but also won't be as demanding as being a full time student. It is typically cheaper as well. Also, many community college classes will apply to four year colleges.

Thanks,
Blake

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Michael’s Answer

I would start by figuring out what you want to do. If you cant figure out what to do don't be afraid to go to a Community College to get your core classes out of the way. That'll give you some time to figure out what you want to do while completing classes you would've had to take anyways. (this can also save you some money!)

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Eric’s Answer

Hi Malu,

Community College is a great way to save money if you haven't quite decided what college or degree you want to attend.

If the cost of going to college is a concern for you and your family, there are options you can look into with regards to financial assistance such as loans and scholarships. My first year in college I was able to get a combination of both and I worked part time on school campus at the book store.

Hope this helps!
Eric

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Edward’s Answer

Hello Malu,

If you're undecided between a community college or university I believe the community college route is an excellent option. Many years ago I found myself asking the very same question. I then decided to enter a community college with a major in accounting. After my first year, I felt very good about the school but no longer believed that accounting was the right major for me. Thus, I made a very easy to do transferred into a finance program/major. After graduating with my associates degree in finance I then transferred to a business university and graduated with a BS in Finance. It worked out excellent for me personally and for my career.

I wish you the very best!

Ed

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Demetrio’s Answer

Depending on your interests or non-interests, your ability to pay for an education and your passion, you will have to decide. Research what is practical for you. Ask questions. Speak with a guidance counselor and the admissions counselors of a school you might desire to attend. What may you want to study? What is offered and what can I do, later? What is the best course of study for my interests? How does a particular school prepare me?

I know and work with many people who have graduated from a Community College as well as a University. They are all successful! Find out what may work for you. Interview the schools!

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Robert’s Answer

Hi Malu, First off are you getting any financial aid as this can be a big factor. Are you staying in state? Have you talked to your school career counselor for any advice? Good luck

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Gail’s Answer

Attending college is expensive and starting at a Community College and then transferring to a University will save you money, this is especially important for someone who does not have financial support from their parents. This is what I did and I graduated with very little student debt. Part of what helped me was a scholarship the University was offering to students with a high GPA who were transferring from a Community College. If cost is a factor in your decision, then the benefits of starting at a Community College should not be overlooked. In addition, taking on a lot of student debt does not necessarily mean that you will end up in a high paying job. Best of luck to you, Malu!

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Austin’s Answer

Hi Malu,

It's definitely different for everyone because it depends on what you want to do for a degree and career, but hopefully, I can help clarify both options. Trying to save money or figure out what degree to pursue are two big components of going to community college. There are a lot of people who choose to go to a local community college for their first two years (as they save money and start knowing which career they want) and then transfer to a university to finish out the rest. It is actually a really good path to a degree and is done by a lot of students. But like I stated earlier everyone has their own path and so if you choose a community college, university, or a mix of both, you still will be able to find the right one for you. If I were you, I would pick two or three community colleges and universities and research them online to see if anything sparks your interest. You might actually find that there is a university you really like or a community college with a great program, which will make your decision that much easier.

I hope this helps and best of luck.

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Alexander’s Answer

Hi Malu! I attended a couple universities and a community college in my experience. If I could go back I would have loved to ask the same question your asking. There are a few thoughts that stand out to me that I wish I could have asked while I was in High School that I'll share with you now.

Do you want to try living on campus on your own or would you prefer to commute?
Does the social environment of a university appeal to you and your personality? Are you interested in really getting involved on campus?
Will you learn better in smaller groups with more interaction with other students and your professors?
Are you considering the financial commitment of each? Community colleges typically come at a lower price.

In my experience, the university give you more freedom because it's a much larger environment where you will be on your own and have opportunities to make new friends and really learn more about yourself and your personality. A community college is a smaller knit environment where you will still meet new people and make new friends but you'll likely see the same people in most of your classes. I made much stronger connections with my professors at my community college and they are professors that I still stay in touch with and use as references in my career.

Everyone will have a different opinion so please consider all of these responses but I wanted to share my experience with you.

I wish you the best in your decision.

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Gregory’s Answer

Community college will definitely save you money and earn you an Associates Degree ( 2 year degree) as well. If your opportunities for scholarship money towards college are limited, community college is a good way to go. Just be sure the program/classes you take are fully accepted at your desired college university towards your Bachelor's Degree (4 year degree).

If you are able to get a fully paid or nearly fully paid scholarship to a University, then attending a University for your entire 4 years of study would be better. The university academic experience and environment is better than at community college overall. Remember that room and board expenses living in a dorm on campus at a university are nearly as much as the tuition. Something to consider.

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