Aside from the timeframe of their degree programs, two- and four-year schools have significant differences in the campus culture and types of programs offered. Some students complete a two-year degree only and then enter the workforce. Others start at a two-year school and then transfer to a four-year college.
The degrees offered at two-year community colleges or trade schools are distinct from those offered at a four-year school. Two-year schools offer liberal arts associate degrees or associate degrees in vocational areas, such as marketing, business administration, or criminal justice. You can also earn shorter-term certificates or diplomas to enter work in certain fields. Four-year schools offer bachelor’s degrees, which include general education and program-specific courses to prepare students for entry-level careers in a field of study.-
There are many compelling arguments for both sides, and there are advantages and disadvantages to whichever educational route students decide to pursue.
There are a variety of factors that play a role when prospective students are deciding what type of education is the best for them and their career goals. These factors include things such as students, classes, cost, advancement, advantages, and disadvantages offered.
In this article, I have mentioned each and every factor about these two colleges to make it easy for you to decide which one is best for you. Let’s have a look!
What is a Two Year College?
A two-year college is a vital pathway toward the more advanced educational opportunities that a four-year university offers. Students receive access to enhanced employment opportunities with this choice as well. By earning an associate’s degree, it is possible to advance toward a better job or the eventual bachelor’s degree that someone desires. Most programs require at least two years, but less than four years of full-time college work.
What is a Four Year College?
A 4-year university provides a larger institution for students to gain an accredited degree. Universities are different than colleges because of their size and the potential availability of graduate programs. Some might have a medical or a law school that allows for the pursuit of a professional degree. Community colleges can get students started on that process, but they can’t lead to a completion of them.
Difference Between 2 Year and 4-year College:
Two Year Colleges:
If you have an interest in a career in technical vocation or a specific trade, a two-year college is a great choice.
Moreover, if you have a track record in high school that is less than college-worthy, starting with a two-year school to prove yourself and then segwaying to a four-year school is a great idea.
Lastly, if you just can’t afford a four-year degree, opt for a two-year school, as any formal education in a field is better than none whatsoever.
So, what are the general and specific class requirements in a two-year school, you may be wondering?
Just like a four-year college, you can choose to enroll in both general education courses-which can transfer to four-year programs, if this is your goal-and specialized field of study.
But with two-year schools, the specialty is always in a technical or administrative program.
Most often, community colleges of two-year schools work closely with the vocational trade businesses in the community, and thus, offer hands-on internships and apprenticeships for those attending.
So, if your chosen study is for the automotive field, you could well get hands-on experience at a local repair shop to augment your career candidacy.
Lastly, and most importantly to many, is the cost of a two-year school.
Two-year colleges are usually the most inexpensive college route. Tuition (the cost for classes) is generally around $3,000-4,000.
Some students will complete general courses at a community college with less expensive tuition, then transfer to a 4-year school to complete their course of study.
Two Year College – Advantages:
Community Colleges are usually less expensive per credit hour than 4-year colleges and can be an inexpensive way to take some of your prerequisite courses for your first year or two of college.
You may not be ready to move far away from home after graduation. If you have a community college close by, it could be in your best interest to take a year of classes and commute from home.
· Academic Regimen:
Classes generally move at a slower pace at community colleges, than at 4-year universities. If you struggled through high school, this setting may be more helpful to your college success than attending a 4-year school.
Two Year College – Disadvantages:
· Academic Regimen:
If you are an exceptional student, you may not feel challenged in community college courses. This can result in boredom and a lack of interest in your courses. However, most community colleges have very high academic standards.
· Commuter Campuses:
Very few community colleges have on-campus housing options like dorms or apartments. You will be responsible for finding housing and commuting to campus.
While many community colleges have extensive course offerings, they simply do not offer as many as you will find at a 4-year university.
What is unique about 2 Year College?
A two-year college is commonly known as a community college or a junior college. A two-year college offers a variety of educational programs that can lead to earning an associate’s degree or certification.
A community college helps you complete your general education (GE). It helps boost a student’s GPA so they can be accepted into a 4-year college. The community college also helps you enter the workforce by getting you certified by earning a certificate or an associate’s degree.
It is unique due to the following reasons:
- A regional higher-education institution offering certificates & two-ear degrees
- Cost less than 4 years
- Don’t consider past grades
- Open enrollment
- Serve part-time students and live-at-home students
- Known as comm. colleges or junior colleges
2 Year Colleges – Courses:
- Automotive technology.
- Computer-aided drafting and design.
- Fire science.
- Construction technology.
- Office management.
- Culinary arts.
- Health information technology.
Four Year Colleges:
The students who decide to attend a four-year school are looking for a solid education in a wide range of studies, including their major career discipline.
While a four-year degree is a minimum for many entry-level positions in almost all industries, a degree of this sort offers a wide array of options for what career a person usually decides upon.
In a four-year degree, of course, there is more time to take more classes-both general and specific.
The first two years are often spent taking the required general education courses of a person’s major-so, math, science, English, etc-and then, the last two, in their specific career field.
In a four-year school, a student can expect a wide variety of learning experiences and opportunities aside from the actual classes that may or may not add to their qualifications in their study-such as student clubs, cultural activities, lectures, and seminars.
Moreover, internships, coop education programs, and study abroad trip also help to facilitate your education learning.
Get ready to tighten your belt, because the cost of a four year degree-though highly valuable on average is about $5, 351 for one year-and this doesn’t include room and board or books.
The good thing about a four-year school is that this investment can always be returned in the form of a better job and a better chance at advancement.
The latest studies from the Bureau of Labor and Statistics reports that someone graduating from a four-year school-on average-makes about $13,000 more per year than those from vocational schools.
Four Year College – Advantages:
If you can dream something up you can find a college or university that offers a course or major in it.
· Collegiate Experience:
From school spirit to dorm living, from athletic events to rec sports, and Homecoming to student life, 4- year colleges offer a well-rounded collegiate experience that cannot be found on a community college campus.
· Academic Regimen-:
4-year colleges offer many classes that will give you the opportunity to expand your way of thinking and give you opportunities to explore ideas that you may never have considered otherwise.
· Scholarship Options:
4-year colleges offer scholarships specifically to first-time freshmen (you have not taken classes on a college campus). If you start out at a community college you will forfeit these scholarship opportunities.
Four Year College – Disadvantages:
4-year colleges are usually more expensive than community colleges, but financial aid options can significantly reduce tuition costs.
Many 4-year colleges have a much larger student body than most community colleges, so students can feel like they’re “lost in the shuffle.” However, some 4-year colleges have student populations of 500-1,000 students. Research student population if class size matters to you.
What is unique about 4 Year College?
A four–year college offers students an undergraduate degree in a wide range of academic majors. Programs of study often follow a rather traditional corpus of academic curricula sometimes boiled down to “liberal arts.” Majors are offered in social and physical sciences, the classics, humanities, and the arts.
A four-year college is a general term for a university or a liberal arts college. Universities are research-orientated institutions that provide a wide range of fields. You can obtain a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree.
Four-year colleges provide you a varied and rich academic and social experience. It is unique due to the following reasons:
- An institution of higher learning that grants bachelor degrees
- Cost more than 2 years
- Known as colleges or universities
- Offer more programs
- Offer more opportunities to live on campus
- Dynamic campus life
- Large athletic program
- Work on campus
- Expert professors
4 Year College Requirements:
When colleges calculate your GPA for admissions purposes, they will often ignore the GPA on your transcript and focus solely on your grades in these core subject areas. Grades for physical education, music ensembles, and other non-core courses are not as useful for predicting your level of college readiness as these core courses. This doesn’t mean that electives aren’t important, as colleges do want to see that you have a breadth of interests and experiences, but they simply don’t provide a good window into an applicant’s ability to handle rigorous college courses.
A student generally must complete 120-semester units or credits to earn a Bachelor of Arts or Science degree. Requirements are described in detail requiring specific courses in Math, Sciences, English, History, Political Science, General Education Courses, and Upper Division Courses in the selected major. Undergraduate students may desire to complete the requirements for more than one major (i.e., graduate with a double major). This may mean more credit units applied toward the given majors in Upper Division Courses.
Many schools have a residency requirement for the baccalaureate degree which specifies that 30 units (more or less) may need to be earned in residence at the campus granting the degree.
2 Year VS 4 Year College Pros and cons:
2 Year College – Pros and cons:
It costs a lot less to attend a 2-year college.
Community colleges can prepare you for a career in public service.
You have the opportunity to improve your grades at a 2-year college.
Community colleges help you to stay closer to home.
You can still participate in your favorite sports.
There is a lot more flexibility at the community college level.
The quality of your education is still excellent at a community college.
There are smaller classroom sizes at a 2-year college vs. a 4-year university.
It is easier to balance a job and classes at a community college.
Financial aid is available at a 2-year college.
A 2-year college won’t provide you with a bachelor’s degree.
You must choose your major right away at a community college.
There are fewer networking opportunities available to students.
Four Year College – Pros And Cons:
Opportunities to Learn about a Wide Range of Subjects.
Additional Prestigious Learning Opportunities.
Meeting a Diverse Group of People.
Learning Life Skills.
There are more sports teams available at four-year universities.
There are more course offerings at a 4-year university.
You have a guaranteed level of expertise at a 4-year university.
Length of Time to Earn Degree.
Earnings Not Commensurate to Student Loan Debt.
Not Getting in the Field that You Earned Your Degree Job Upon Graduation.
Is Community College Better than University:
Yes, Community college is better than university.
“Community college is a great fit for many students, and often better than going to a four-year college,” says Venkatesh Swaminathan, the founder, and CEO of LifeLaunchr, an online college planning, and coaching service.
It can help students develop necessary academic skills, mature emotionally, and often lead to a more fulfilling, better-paying career, while also helping students reduce their debt load.”
So, if your college applications are looming, here are four key reasons to put community colleges versus universities on your academic radar:
- Cost: Community colleges are usually less expensive.
- Flexibility: Class schedules can be more flexible.
- Support: Students often receive more support during their transition from high school.
- Career opportunities: Students can explore their interests and enter niche job markets.
For many, the benefits of a community college outweigh those of a university. There are several pros of the community college that make it a great option for those seeking to start or continue their education. These benefits include lower costs, smaller classes, and an easier application process:
1. Lower Costs at Community College:
When comparing the costs of community college to a university, you must look at the cost per year rather than the total cost of getting a degree. By looking at the per-year cost, you have a better comparison between the two.
- If you want to go to a university, you could spend five times more for a year than you would by going to a community college. The differences may be even greater depending on the schools you compare.
- The average university cost for a private four-year university is $37,650 per year. Compare this to the 2020-2021 school year tuition and fees for attending Mount Wachusett Community College, which is $5,668*.
- Additionally, at community colleges, you don’t have overhead costs such as housing and meal fees. You will need to budget for books, technology fees, lab fees, health insurance, and specific program fees.
- For instance, some professional programs may have extra fees to cover the costs of any tools or devices used in the course.
2. Smaller Class Sizes at Community Colleges:
- Community colleges often have much smaller classes, especially compared to the first two years of a university.
- Many four-year colleges will have lecture classes in auditoriums to accommodate the hundreds of students in attendance. However, community colleges have a smaller student-to-teacher ratio.
- At Mount Wachusett Community College, we have small class sizes with a student-to-teacher ratio of 12:1. In fact, at The Mount, classes cannot exceed 20 students enrolled. You won’t find this ratio at universities with larger classes.
3. Easier Application Process
- While most four-year universities require that you take a standardized test, such as the SAT or ACT, community colleges don’t have this requirement for admissions.
- In fact, The Mount doesn’t even require an essay for admissions. You will take an assessment test after the community college admits you. This assessment determines which level of courses you can enroll in.
- If you don’t have great grades or test scores from high school, you don’t have to worry about community college. You can still get into community college and focus on getting the best grades possible.
- Using your community college experience, you can transfer to a four-year university and may never need to take a standardized test, since universities often don’t require SAT or ACT scores for transfer students. Check with the school you want to transfer to for more specific details.
- Another benefit of community college is the low or no application fee. The Mount does not charge its prospective students to apply. The convenient online application only takes 10 minutes to complete.
- For four-year universities, the average cost to apply is $44. However, many schools charge more. For instance, the University of California San Diego charges $105 for its application fee. Another 59 schools charge between $75 and $85 to apply. These fees are non-refundable, even if the school does not accept you. Plus, you will have to write essays, send in recommendation letters, submit SAT or ACT scores and your high school transcripts for each application. The process can take hours per school you apply to.
Which Is Right For You?
It really depends on which field you decide to pursue. If you’re looking for a career in a professional role such as teaching or law; the longer, more traditional university route is going to be your best option. But for skill-based careers in fields like Audio Engineering, Video Production, and Broadcasting, a two-year college can be a great choice that can get you working in your chosen field faster and potentially much less in debt.
It all comes down to what your unique career goals are. But no matter what career path you choose, be sure to do the research to give yourself the best chance for success!
In my opinion, if you want to save money while pursuing an advanced career option, then a 2-year college is going to provide you with several financial benefits when compared to a 4-year university. Even if you graduate with an associate’s degree and transfer to a university to finish your bachelor’s degree, you can easily save $10,000 or more in costs to limit the amount of student debt you must manage after graduating.
To Sum Up:
Making the decision to pursue higher education at any level is an important one. It’s also a highly personal choice. While it’s impossible to say whether a 2-year college or 4-year university is objectively better for the average student, it is possible to determine which is right for you after a careful evaluation of your individual situation and goals.
Both four-year colleges and two-year colleges have their advantages and disadvantages. Students should choose the educational route that is better fitted to their interests and needs, whether they want to go to a big-league university or a nice trade school close to home.