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Is it worth going to a community college then a 4 year, or straight to a 4 year college

I’ve always been told to go to community college first, but never understood why.

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Shawn’s Answer

Hi Zachary! Great question. I would say this all depends on your circumstances. Most people recommend for individuals to attend community college to knock out those prerequisite classes for a cheaper price and then matriculate into a university. However if you choose this route you will need to make sure that you are registering for classes that will transfer over to the university of your choosing because if the courses do not align then you may have to retake it once you transfer. You will also want to research accreditation of schools because accreditation status can determine the acceptance of some credits. I would say to definitely do your research and weigh out the pros and cons for you based on your situation. There are a plethora of scholarships out there as well that can alleviate cost if cost is a concern for you. If available at your school you can also do dual enrollment before graduating high school to knock out some of those credits early.
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Jason’s Answer

Great question! If you are interested in going to college, the issue of cost is always something to consider. One of the biggest reasons you will hear recommendations to attend a community college will be the lower cost for taking what, in many cases, will be equivalent classes to those that you would take if you were to attend a 4-year college or university. For most college students, during their first semesters in college they will need to earn credits in what are known as general education classes, which may not necessarily be directly related to your chosen major, but will still cost the same per credit hour. At a community college, a student can take these general classes, but often at a much more affordable price. In many cases, the credits earned at a community college are transferable to other schools if a student were to transfer to a 4 year college, for instance, to go on and earn a Bachelor's Degree. This would lower the overall cost of going to college and earning an undergraduate degree. The only thing to be cautious about are things like the college's accreditation status and whether or not any school you might want to transfer to will accept some or all of the credits earned at a community college.

Location, convenience, and flexibility are also good things to consider when it comes to thinking about attending a community college. They are just like any other college or university. Often it is just the available majors and degrees that they offer that make them different from your traditional bigger colleges and universities. I suggest checking out the websites of your local community college and see what they have to offer, especially if you are curious if they are right for you.
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Wilhelmina’s Answer

Community colleges are usually cheaper than a 4 year college which is why I recommended that approach for my son. The first 2 years of college are usually the basic courses so you can get those out of the way before you start the specialized courses for your major. I hope this has helped.
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Atul’s Answer

You have to look at your financial resources to make this decision. Are you getting a substantial scholarship for a 4-year undergraduate degree? If so, it is worth considering going to the college/univ where you are getting the scholarship.
Secondly, if you do decide to go to the community college for 2 years, make sure that the state school or any other school accepts your credits from the community college. You do not want to waste money or time here.
Does the quality of the education matter whether it is a community college or a state univ? Some people say yes while others argue that it is up to the individual to challenge themselves.
The last thing you want is to have a substantial student loan and take a major which puts food on the table.
Above all, an undergraduate degree will travel a distance for your career path.
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Patty’s Answer

This is a great question. The main reason people give this advice is due to the financial cost of college. Most community colleges have less expensive tuition, for the same general education courses. Other advantages of community college is the course schedule - it is often more flexible with evening and weekend courses that can fit in with a work schedule. Prior to making your decision, you need to make sure the course of study at the 4 year school you are considering can fit with attending community college for the general education classes. For example, an engineering curriculum may start with "major" specific courses in the first year, and by transferring in, you may find that you are behind. Good luck.
Another thought to consider - do you know specifically what you want to study or are you unsure? If you are unsure, community college is a great way to explore your options.
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Kim’s Answer

Hi Zachary,

This is such a great question!

Choosing community college over a four year institution is beneficial for different reasons. As noted by other professionals who answered this question, cost is a big factor. Having a degree is always going to help your career but the long term debt that is associated with this may feel like a burden after some time. Going to a community coollege to complete prerequisite classes would really help so once someone decides to further their education they may focus on classes that are required for that degree. Additionally, you may not be sure what you want to pursue for a career path so taking those core classes at a commnity college may help you decide what you like.

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Tia’s Answer

This is a great question that many high school students have, Zachary. My advice is always about being cost effective. If you have a full scholarship to attend a four year university, I would say take that route. However, If you do not have a full scholarship, and it is more cost effective to attend community college and complete all your prerequisite courses, I would advise to go that route.

I have friends that have graduated with their bachelors degree and have six figured debt because of it. If you can learn from their lessons, try to graduate college with as little debt as possible. Apply to as many scholarships that you can, and make the best decision for you.
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Antoine’s Answer

Attending community college initially is a great way to get acclimated to college life, usually on a smaller scale. It allows you to work more closely with the professors and save money. It's also a way to help improve your chances of getting into a dream school or a state school because State schools can hold spots for some community college students.
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Paul’s Answer

There are several ways in which you can approach this question. I had the same issue, when I was graduating from high school, and after debating and reviewing my different options I chose the community college. These were the reasons why:

1. My grades. My grades were basically in the bottom one third of my class. I had about a C+ average when I came out of high school, so I needed to increase my academic proficiency, before I could adapt to the environment of a university.

2. Class sizes. At the community college the classes were much smaller, and I could obtain academic assistance much easier when I required it. The tutoring system was also much smaller, so I could get appointments much easier. Classes at the university can run into the hundreds, and were taught by a teaching assistant, and not the actual professor.

3. Economics. I actually saved a lot of money when I went to a community college. They are less expensive and the education that I received was amazing. The money that I saved lessened my student debt. Plus, they have technical programs, which the universities did not have. I also was able to live at home and stay in a familiar environment, where there was less distraction.

4. Maturity. I really do not think I hit academic proficiency until my second year of college. If I was at a university, I most likely would have dropped out. The community college system actually encouraged me to stay in college. It had a wider diversity of programs, which appealed to my potential in athletics, interests in student life and academics. All which helped in my retention and eventual graduation.

5. Transfer. I found it easier to transfer, when I received my associates degree. I had basically satisfied all the university general academic requirements, and it allowed me to pursue my bachelors as soon as I arrived on campus.

6, Scholarships. The chances of me receiving a college scholarship at the community or junior college was much greater than at a university. There were less students in the application process and the financial aid system seemed to be more proficient and effective in the way it distributed funds.
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Juan’s Answer

A huge factor for many is the price. It is more affordable to go to a Community college then transfer to a Four year to finish your Bachelor's Degree. Although that seems to be changing now. The Biden Administration is forgiving many peoples student loans.
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Baljit’s Answer

Hi Zachary,
The most important factor in choosing a community college instead of college/ university is $$$. This just means it's a lot cheaper. The subjects are usually the same BUT the only thing that is very important to consider is whether the credits from community college is accredited and the credits transferable to the other college. This is a big problem for many students that need transfer. You should consult your admitted college admissions deparment about whether the community college are transferable.

Also prestige is the other factor to consider whether going to a community college or regular college. Its a matter of preference. If you want the college experience - go for it. But the only thing about prestige is the resume. It just looks better fo job hunting when listing a 4 year college rather than a community college. It's all about long term goals.
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Donnie’s Answer

If you are looking for quality education for half the cost, then obtaining an Associates degree from a Community College is your best option. Universities accept community college credits and you can even get a head start at a community college by earning extra credits toward your degree. If you obtain an Associate of Science degree at a community college, most of the time that is just as good as a four year degree. Check your local community college website and it will give you more information about their courses, majors, and the University they partner with. Good luck!
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Mark’s Answer

All the answers above have merit, but here's one more point that I'd emphasize that wasn't made as clearly above (although Kim and Patty hinted at it). If you're not sure what you want for a degree or a career, it can be a whole lot easier (and less expensive) to sample different areas of study at a community college than in a 4-year institution. On the one hand, you'll spend the first year or two at a 4-year institution in general ed classes, which may make it hard to explore different majors. On top of that, some 4-year schools may require you to begin a few courses in your major by your sophomore year, but if you change majors, those courses may not be helpful, and you may wind up on an expensive and time-consuming 5- or 6-year graduation plan.
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