Should I go to a community college or university?
I've taken a lot of art classes in school but I'm not set on what kind of career I want to pursue and still want time to try other activities within the field. I'm wondering what kind of school is best for me while I'm figuring out what I want to do exactly. I do well in my classes, I don't try taking a lot of AP courses, and I am associated in various extracurriculars. #career-choice #art #college
DEGREES – First on the list of differences between community colleges and universities is the type of degrees and programs offered. Community colleges are sometimes referred to as '2-year colleges' and mostly offer associate's degree programs that you can typically complete in two years or less, depending on enrollment status (full or part time). Associate's degrees can prepare you for transfer to a university or be used on their own for jobs that require a 2-year degree. Most community colleges also offer short-term certificate and diploma programs that train you for a specific career. On the other hand, universities generally offer programs that result in bachelor's, degrees and take longer to complete (4+ years). Both community colleges and universities offer a variety of programs of study, but universities typically have a much larger range of options and sometimes have smaller colleges within them (e.g., College of Education; College of Performing Arts).
COST – Alongside degree programs, cost is probably the biggest difference between community colleges and universities – and one of the main factors when it comes to choosing a school. That said, community colleges are much cheaper than universities; the average annual cost in a public community college is about $3,400 for in-district students annually. However, the average yearly cost for a public four-year course is about $9,400 for in-state learners and about $24,000 for out-of-state students. The differences are crazy, aren't they. Due to these huge price differences, many students choose to complete a two-year degree program at their local community college and then transfer to a university to complete their studies and earn a higher degree. Just remember that if you're thinking of doing this, always check to make sure your credits and degree will transfer when the time comes.
ADMISSION REQUIREMENTS – 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, law enforcement, allied health and 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.
STUDENT LIFE – Commuter campuses tend to have far less going on when it comes to student life since students leave school when their classes are over. This does not mean that community colleges don't have athletic teams and student clubs and organizations; many do. But the majority of students won't be involved in these activities. At a four-year residential university, the great majority of students will be involved in multiple clubs, and the options for getting involved in athletics will be far greater than at a community college. Universities are also likely to have more frequent evening and weekend events such as lectures, musical performances, comedians, trivia nights, hikes, camping trips, and so on. In general, if you value highly involved students, an active social scene, and a lot of school spirit, a university is going to have more to offer than a community college.
Ultimately Ashley, 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.
A great question. I went first to the local community college, then on to a 4 year university for the same reason...and saved a ton of money too. After I gained my Associates Degree I was able to go into a 4 year univerity with all of my core credits covered, had figured out a little bit more what I wanted to do and study, and where I wanted to attend. The community college I went to also had a work/study program where as a freshman I was able to co-op at in a career I thought I really wanted to do. Turns out I learned it was not for me!
I encourage you to try the community college, take your basic classes, save a ton of money, and also explore 4 year schools you can transfer your credits into. Good luck to you Ashley! I'm sure you'll find just the right courses and path for you. Best wishes.
College Guidance Consultants
If you don't have a specific career in mind, then I would say that you should not be starting college. College is not where you find out what you want to do. It is way to expensive for that. College is where you get the skills, experience, and credentials to find a job. I would suggest instead that you find local artists or folks in art-adjacent fields to shadow or interview so that you can learn more about the career options available to you with a degree.
If you do find something you want to do as a career and feel that getting a degree would increase your chances of landing the job or getting more pay, I would definitely start at community college. The costs are way lower. If or when you need to transfer to a university, look at your local state schools since those offer in-state folks a lower rate.
If you are certain that you want to pursue a career in Art & Design (but you're not sure which one), I recommend looking at Art & Design schools. You can:
-Meet with your school's college advisor or guidance counselor for help with getting started in your search.
-Research top liberal arts and/or art & design schools locally or in the cities, states, and countries you're interested in going to college.
-Request information from the schools on your list (it's free!)
I think that going to a community college for two years sounds like a great option that you could consider! Especially during times where things are still remote, starting to work towards your degree by taking certain required classes can do nothing but help you!
I myself went right to a four-year university, but that was because I was very certain of my career/goals. However, if I was uncertain I would have considered starting at a community college!
Either way, you're off to a great start!