Community colleges vs. four year colleges


College is a huge part of life after high school in the United States. In fact, 50 percent of citizens either graduate from college or complete a certain amount of college.

This statistic, however, can be further broken down: what percentage of students attend community colleges? What percentage of students go to a four year college?

Even this can be broken down into more detail: what percentage of students go to a school within the University of California school system? The California State University system? A private school? An out-of-state public school?

The possibilities are nearly endless when it comes to choosing a college.

There are many different factors to consider when finding the right college. Students attempting to find where they want to go are influenced by a variety of things: location, cost, programs, sports, academic rigor, and much more. Different types of schools offer so many different advantages.

For example, community colleges: community colleges seem very logical to many – in fact, nearly half of the country’s undergraduates attend community colleges. In 2009, 44 percent of all U.S. undergraduates went to a community college.

Community colleges tend to be much more vocational. Because of this, many believe that attending a community college increases lifetime earning potential. In fact, in an article on, Jill Biden, second lady of the United States, states that community colleges help meet “the specific needs of employers” and help “get workers into good-paying jobs that allow them to provide.”

Furthermore, community college makes sense to many people economically. According to the College Board, community colleges cost an average of $2,963, which is much less than the average cost of a four year college, whether public or private.

Others believe that four year colleges are the better choice.

Four year colleges, although generally more costly than community colleges, have their advantages as well.

Going to a four year college allows a student to have much more flexibility when it comes to scheduling and degrees.

They also tend to provide a much more well-rounded education than community colleges: students are given the opportunities to participate in clubs, on-campus activities, cultural events, and much more.

“I’ve always wanted to go to a four year college because I think they’re just stronger schools,” Andrew Durlofsky, a senior, said.

Regardless of Durlofsky’s enthusiasm for four year colleges, there is still the lingering question of cost: how big of a dent does education at a four year college make?

On average, a public four year school costs around $8,000 for in-state tuition per year. Room and board costs around $7,000 per year. Private schools cost around $28,000 for tuition and around $10,000 for room and board, a total of $38,000.

Others find a way to incorporate both types of education into their college experience by attending a community college for two years and then transferring to a four year college. By doing so, cost is reduced.

Furthermore, many students choose to get their basic course requirements out of the way at community college, thus allowing them to focus on their chosen major.

“I’m planning on going to a community college and then transferring to a UC so I can get all the boring, basic classes out of the way,” stated J.R. Vitale, a senior.