When selecting a college, the choice for many students comes down to two-year community colleges or four-year colleges and universities. While you can often save money by completing two years at a community college, going to a four-year school right away offers a number of benefits for the right student.
Breadth of Education
A significant advantage of a four-year school is the ability to offer tremendous breadth and depth of educational options. The number of degree programs, majors and class options exceeds what you can get at the typical community college. The program variety allows you to get more specific in selecting a degree. At a community college, you can often get a marketing degree, for instance. At a four-year school, more specific majors may include advertising, marketing research and public relations.
Broader College Experience
If you want the traditional college experience you see and hear about in movies, on TV and in the media, a four-year school is your best bet. Four-year schools normally have significant on-campus residential opportunities, social activities, clubs, sports and other extracurricular activities. Essentially, you live in a college community as opposed to going to a campus just to take classes. The experience allows you to grow socially and culturally as well as intellectually.
Beginning your college journey at a four-year school will help you gain familiarity with the campus from the beginning. Starting at a community college and transferring to a four-year school will require you to learn two different campuses. Settling in at a four-year school will help you develop strong relationships with peers and more importantly, the faculty in your chosen major.
Extra Learning Opportunities
While select community colleges and programs do offer some extra learning opportunities, they often pale to what you can get at a four-year school. Study-abroad programs, experiential study trips, high-level internships and on-campus theater shows, professional presentations and cultural events add to the mix. You can also join fraternities, sororities and other clubs that lead to additional opportunities in service learning, professional networking and team building.
Whether your lifelong mission has been to get to college so you could live alone, or you leave home reluctantly, college life offers opportunities for personal development. The on-campus living and opportunities to learn independent decision-making responsibilities are commonly available at four-year schools. You have to get yourself up in the morning, go to class, manage your time, do homework, cook, clean and make financial decisions independently if you live away from home at a four-year school. This is a great way to become prepared for securing a full-time job and living an adult life.
Neil Kokemuller has been an active business, finance and education writer and content media website developer since 2007. He has been a college marketing professor since 2004. Kokemuller has additional professional experience in marketing, retail and small business. He holds a Master of Business Administration from Iowa State University.