University or Community College? Which One Really Wins Out?
Updated: Sep 28, 2021
Katherine B | February 8, 2021
Many stigmas are held about community colleges. Between assumptions about lower quality education, fewer job prospects, and subpar professors, this form of higher education is hardly ever considered by new graduates. Do these stereotypes hold true, or is there more to the story?
Let’s begin with the elephant in the room: the cost of education. To make things a bit more realistic and local, let’s also use Colorado colleges as our reference. Taking information from their respective websites, here is the data I’ve collected.
Colorado State University:
University of Colorado Boulder: $30,660
Front Range Community College: $11,918
Each amount was calculated under the assumption that the student qualifies for
in-state tuition, would live on campus, would be a full-time student, and would pay for the entire 9-month academic year.
Of course, these prices will vary depending on the person and the financial aid they are able to receive. Objectively the costs are very self-explanatory. Many believe that the more you pay, the higher education you experience, like with private schools. Now, it’s time to get into the deeper realities of the schools and compare campus life, quality of education, and how it affects you in the long run.
According to Forbes Magazine, the projected growth rate of jobs requiring a 2-year degree in 2020 was 35%. Such jobs include radiation technology, engineering technology, medical imaging, dental hygiene, and more. It is more than possible to obtain a high-paying job with a 2-year degree from a community college.
Polling from Mountain Range students largely concluded that 4-year universities were the way to go. One student noted, “Because I'm terrified of being a failure and I want to do things with my life. The way the world is set up makes me feel like if I don’t attend a good four-year school directly out of high school I'm going to be the equivalent of a troll living under a bridge in a refrigerator box”. Despite the humor, I believe that this quote reflects the vast majority of how most graduates feel, including myself.
Despite the numerous benefits of community college, most of us have been told from a young age, both by society and our parents, that we must obtain a minimum of a 4-year degree from a reputable university. This can lead to feelings of worthlessness or inadequacy when you can’t find something you enjoy within that mold.
Taking this into account, I believe this is where researching every option available to you is important. It is also what I hoped to achieve by writing this article. Life and education can be so much more than the typical 4 years of school and 30 years of debt. If community college sounds promising, save your money, test the waters, and find something you truly love without risking time and finances in the process.