Should I Choose a 2-Year or 4-Year College?

Choosing the right college is an important decision in every young person’s life. The decision between attending a two-year or four-year college is especially critical. There are advantages and disadvantages of each to consider, as well as the fact that your educational path might possibly require going to both.

Community Colleges

Typically, schools with two-year programs are community colleges. Community colleges offer students several advantages. Community colleges usually charge much lower tuitions rates than four-year schools, offer smaller class sizes and more opportunities for personal instruction. Additionally, students with a spotty grade record in high school will find it easier to get accepted into community colleges and they have a chance to improve their academic record before moving on to a four-year school or university. A two-year, or associate’s degree, also allows students the chance to get a specialized degree that will enable them to enter the workforce relatively quickly and possibly even find an employer who offers tuition reimbursement if they choose to further their education later. The downside of attending a community college is that if you choose to transfer to a university, they may not accept all your transfer credits. Another downside is that, depending on your career choice, many employers may still prefer candidates with a four-year degree. Two-year schools are a good choice for people who need to “ease in” to college life, people who have a focused career path that they can start with a two-year degree and students looking to save money by completing their basic educational requirements before transferring to another school.

Universities and Colleges

Four-year schools can be either a university or a college. In today’s job market, employers place major emphasis on candidates with a four-year bachelor’s degree. A bachelor degree will increase your likelihood of landing a good job with a decent starting salary after you graduate. Bachelor degree holders have more professional advancement opportunities as well. However, four years is a big commitment. If you are not certain about your career path, you could wind up deeply in debt if you switch majors, especially if you switch majors more than once. Four-year schools charge higher tuition rates and have much larger class sizes than community colleges. Some students feel overwhelmed when starting out at a university; others love the widespread opportunities and greater opportunities to socialize. Generally speaking, the first two years of the curriculum is devoted to general studies classes like math, liberal arts and English, so students do have some time before they have to pick a major. However, students usually rack up a large amount of debt attending a four-year school and if you are uncertain about going to college or uncertain about how you will handle being in a lecture hall with 300 classmates, then you should consider attending a community college first.

There is no one-size-fits-all answer when it comes to choose the right type of college or university. Your best bet it to examine your career goals, your financial resources and your level of commitment while making your decision. Some people like to jump right in full throttle with a four-year program, while others like to get their associate’s degree first and see where life takes them. Whichever path you choose, going to college is always a smart decision.

About the Author: Deonna Wobbleton is a guidance counselor who helps both high school and college students plot their educational paths. She especially enjoys helping single mothers get back to school and highly recommends to anyone looking for help.

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