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Home Lifestyle Community College vs 4-year University: Which is better for you?

Community College vs 4-year University: Which is better for you?

Community college vs four-year university is one of the oldest debates in the United States, especially for high school seniors. Is one better than the other? Are the academic standards the same?

For the longest time, there was a stigma surrounding community colleges, but it has begun to fade away as schools have upped their game. Either choice is a viable option, you just need to choose the one that works best for you and your situation. Look at the differences between the two options:

Community College Pros:

Cost Effective & Gen-Eds

Community colleges are far less expensive than a four-year university. On average, students spend just over $3,000 a year for tuition and fees at community colleges compared to over $9,000 a year at a four-year university. Community colleges are a great option for students who want to get their general education requirements out of the way and save a little money before transferring to a four-year university.

Transferable Credits & Academic Quality

In recent years, the academic quality of community colleges has risen thus increasing the number of credits that will transfer to four-year universities. This makes it easier for students who are still figuring out a career path but want to complete their general education requirements. Since the academic quality has increased at community colleges, students are better prepared when and if they decide to transfer to a four-year university.

Smaller Class Size & Flexible Schedule

Class sizes at community colleges are considerably smaller than that of a four-year university. Smaller class sizes make way for better ratios of teachers to students thus improving the learning environment for the student. Students also benefit from community colleges because of the flexibility in the schedule. Community colleges are more like to offer more classes throughout the day than a four-year university. This makes it easier for students who must work or take care of a family to attend classes when it fits into their schedule.

Four-Year University Pros:

Student Housing & Campus Life

One of the perks of attending a four-year university is student housing. While it does add on to the cost, student housing provides students the opportunity to live on campus with other students. This makes it easier for students to get to know one another and to participate in campus activities. Four-year college campuses are filled with a variety of extracurricular activities for its students. Students have access to gyms/workout centers, clubs, athletic programs, and much more. Campus life is one of the key selling points when students look at colleges. Community colleges are just not large enough to compete with the campus life of universities.

Academic Quality & Class Options

The academic quality at four-year universities is usually top-notch. Many universities have world-renowned professors and state of the art equipment in each area of study. Due to the vast areas of study that universities provide, there are more class options to choose from. The number of class options serves as a way for students to figure out which area of study best suits them.


Diversity is a key component of four-year universities that you just cannot find at community colleges. Four-year universities have students attending from all over the world and from different backgrounds. This provides a deeper level of learning as students meet peers with different perspectives on the world.

Deciding between community college and a four-year university is a decision best based on what works best for the student. If you need to work and go to school, then attending a community college may be the better option. Are you looking to live on campus, join clubs, and immerse yourself in campus life? Then a four-year university will work best for you. There is no wrong choice when deciding between the two.

Stephanie King
Stephanie is a senior contributor and website manager here at Before working at, Stephanie was the senior photographer at for seven years. She is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and Randleman High School.


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