After high school, you may have a decision to make about community college vs university. Which one offers you the path that you hope to pursue? Choosing between each of these higher education options is not always easy to do. It is often worth it to spend some time considering both avenues to determine which one may be able to prepare you for the future goals you have. To help you, consider the following aspects of the community college vs university comparison. Community College vs University When comparing a community college to a university, it helps to consider what the schools cover as well as the type of experience you may have here. Here’s what to think about when comparing these educational options. What is a community college? A community college is a type of post high school education option. Community colleges typically prepare students to go on to enter career paths that require an associate’s or a certification. Sometimes, students go from a community college to a 4-year college. Community colleges themselves tend to be 2-year programs or shorter that teach highly specific courses to help prepare students for their career objectives. What is a university? A university is typically a 4-year school offering higher education through numerous disciplines. Many times, the goal out of high school is to attend a university to earn a bachelor’s, which may help students to enter the workforce or go on to graduate school. Universities typically provide not just specific courses that teach skills to the student in their selected field but also supportive courses in areas like math and English. They may include arts programs and other areas to help develop well-rounded students. Consider these differences in community colleges and universities to get a better understanding of the differences. Community colleges offer career-specific education One of the differences is what they teach. Community colleges have fewer courses that are not directly related to the topic being studied. Students spend more time in courses that are likely to impact their career goals. Costs Community college is typically less expensive than the cost of a four-year college degree program. The costs come from a shorter amount of time in school but also lower costs per credit hour, in many cases. Sometimes lower costs per course encourage students to take more electives or may encourage more prerequisite courses taken at the community college that the student needs for a bachelor’s. They may decide to go on to a four-year university to earn that bachelor’s at a lower cost because they earned some of their courses at community college. Closer to home Many community colleges are geographically accessible to students. That may mean that the student does not have to go far to get the education they desire. Rather, they may be able to live at home and commute to school, which could also reduce the overall cost of education for many students. Do community colleges have dorms? It is not common for community colleges to have dorms, though some do. Rather, many students commute to and from courses. Flexible schedules Community colleges typically have more flexibility in their schedules than universities. However, many of today’s universities have incorporated distance learning and some flexibility into evening courses. Universities provide higher degree programs For those who wish to work in a field that requires a bachelor’s or master’s, these are not typically accessible to students at the community college level. Students need to attend a university to earn that education and meet those learning goals. Can I get a bachelor’s at community college? Some community colleges may offer a path towards earning a bachelor’s, but it is more common for students to attend a university to earn that designation instead. Not all community colleges offer the same comprehensive level of education In some situations, students earn a more comprehensive level of education when they attend a four-year college than what they may be able to earn in a community college. Universities offer more robust educational programs, and typically offer a more college-life centric environment, where there are more social activities. Sports programs are not present at all community colleges Some four-year universities offer sports programs. This may include providing educational scholarships and those based on sports performance to students. Many community colleges do not have formal college sports teams. Those hoping to use a scholarship to pay for college may not be able to do that at the community college level. Potentially more access to financial support at universities Financial aid may be available to those who qualify. Both community colleges and universities offer financial aid in many cases. However, universities tend to have more giving opportunities through scholarships and other programs, thanks to alumni who leave behind endowments and other offers. Easier to apply to community colleges Application and acceptance into many community colleges is easier than what occurs at a 4-year university. It is important to note that many community colleges still have requirements for admissions, but they may not be as restrictive as some universities. This could make it easier for some students to attend. Do community colleges accept everyone? Not always. Community colleges do not always accept everyone into the programs or into the school. Students may still need to meet qualifications in areas of proficiency while also requiring students to have a GED or a high school diploma. Smaller class sizes Depending on the university, community colleges typically have a smaller class size. However, that is not the case when it comes to some private, smaller schools. Making the Decision to Attend Consider a few common questions that many students have. Why do people go to community college? There are many reasons why students attend community college, including because the courses may be less expensive, and it may be easier to enroll in this setting than in some four-year universities. In addition to this, some community colleges offer more flexibility and availability of courses that interest students. Community colleges sometimes offer the ability to transfer credits to a four-year college later, allowing students to earn their degree program at a lower cost. Some people attend community college for a refresher in skills or to meet continuing education requirements. How do you transfer from community college to university? To transfer, students typically need to apply for and receive acceptance into the university they hope to transfer into first. Then, that college provides information on whether or not they accept the credits for the individual courses the student took at the community college. Transcripts help to provide that information. Can I take classes at two different community colleges? It may be an option to work towards education at two different community colleges. However, there may be some limitations related to where a person receives financial aid when attending two schools. One school typically is a home school, while students may have to have approval to attend another school at the same time.