If you can see yourself going to a four-year college and obtaining a bachelors degree, then don’t bother messing around at a community college. Transferring to a four-year institution can be a major pain and it would put you at a better advantage to just start at a four-year institution.
First off, it is much harder for a transfer student to get scholarships and admission to a four-year institution than a freshman.
There are more grants available from the federal government, and much more percentages of freshmen are admitted out of the applicants than transfer students.
For instance, at the University of Washington Seattle campus 2,119 out of 4,541 total transfer applicants were offered admission in August 2010: that is 47 percent admittance. Where as freshman applicants that same year saw 12,964 out of 22,843 accepted applicants: that is 57 percent admittance. Making it a 10 percent higher chance of making it in as a freshman than as a transfer.
Another disadvantage of first attending a two-year institution is transferring credits. Not all four-year institutions will accept a Direct Transfer Agreement degree as replacing their general curriculum.
Some schools may just transfer class by class and not all of your classes may be transferred. You may not even receive the time and money that you invested in community college. Four-year institutions should have a transfer equivalency guide for classes that they recognize with credit. If they don’t, then you will have to get an admissions counselor to evaluate your transcript.
Hoping that all of your credits will transfer will limit your college choices to those that accept your credits.
Going straight to the four year institution that you plan to attend anyways will save you the hassle of transferring credits and will guarantee that you will get your full two years worth of education.
Also, some majors require more than just two years of credit for the degree requirements. If your two year institution does not offer those classes, then you are getting a late start to your major and you might not graduate from the four year school in two years, making your four year degree more like five or six years.
Larger institutions also have larger budgets for things like research and class supplies. So if you want to be a scientist, the research experience and better lab supplies would help you more in your first two years of college than just the lab experience you get in the classroom at a community college.
Also along the lines of experience, four year universities have larger alumni banks and more connections to the real world, providing students with more internship experiences.
Academically, the first two years at a four-year institution are going to be much harder than at a two year. Classes are larger and your grade is depended on usually just a mid-term and a final test because the professor couldn’t possibly grade hundreds of assignments or extra tests.
Don’t be afraid of the extra work though, it will pay off because it will prepare you better for your last two years of college. Transfer students coming in at the junior level will be shocked at how much more work goes into a class at the four year level.
The lifestyle at a four-year institution is more challenging as well. Most students can’t still live at home with parents like a lot of students at community college do, instead they are thrust into adulthood miles from home. There is more responsibility on a student living and studying at a four-year institution than a two year.
Often the greatest benefits of a community college also can be the basis for the stigmas against it. Since it’s cost effective it’s seen as cheap because admission is guaranteed students aren’t viewed as able because logically, if they could have gotten into a university they would have, right?
Benefits like affordability, guaranteed admission and small class size are the most well-known and often good enough reasons to encourage many students to attend community colleges. It’s the subtle benefits, however, that really make the case for them.
It’s important to consider that the first two years at either a community college or university are intended for general course work, where as the last two years after students have declared their majors is when specific career oriented education begins.
For earning a master’s degree or doctorate, the university is invaluable. But for prerequisite education, the junior college is quite sufficient, if not better. The university does serve its purpose, but all things being equal it shouldn’t matter where these first two years take place.
While many students may not consider Pierce College to be comparable to a university, the fault is in their attitude and lack of personal standards. This attitude has sometimes led to nicknames for junior colleges such as the 13th- or 14th-grade. Regardless, a professional and rigorous curriculum is provided at community colleges and is enforced by professional staff members who possess degrees and experience that would qualify them to teach at a university.
If the educational quality of the two-year community college is equal to the first two years of the university, then all that separates them is the idea of prestige and pomp. Prestige for the university is often determined by the competiveness of admission. Compare that to the open door policy of the junior college that welcomes students rather than rejects them.
In some ways the very precise and coordinated method that the university uses to educate their students ignores the finer points of real education and the purpose of it.
I’d argue that purely by the open and adaptable nature of junior college, students can more easily reach their full potential in other areas of their life as well as the ultimate goal of applying their education.
Both the community college and university student have the ability to see that their education can never be created or restrained by a curriculum, no standard or university requirement can be compared to the standard every student upholds for themselves. This is an idea built upon the foundation of what the junior college seeks to do. In the end it is work ethic that will transfer more than credits.
The Puyallup Post is the award-winning student news of Pierce College Puyallup in Puyallup, Washington. Copyright The Puyallup Post 2017. Twitter/Instagram @puyalluppost
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