When many students are looking for institutions of higher learning in the United States, they encounter a number of difficulties especially in choosing the kind of institution to join. One of the difficulties is usually the inability to tell the difference between community colleges and universities as is used in the United States higher education. This essay addresses the question of existing differences and similarities between the two categories of higher learning institutions and why it is important for prospective students to comprehend. Although there is always a misconception that community colleges only offer diplomas whereas universities offer degree courses, their differences are far beyond this. They vary from convenience, cost of education, duration of study and size among other parameters.
First, it is important to note that community colleges and universities are at a higher level compared to high schools both in US and in other parts of the world. One has to go through high school before qualifying to join any institution of higher learning. Nevertheless, colleges and universities have always been considered synonymous with regard to their manner of operation. There are some colleges in the United States which give students an opportunity to study a wide range of subjects and are empowered to only to offer diploma courses but also degree and doctorate programs. The main purpose of community colleges in the US is to prepare all to students to face the real world through practical learning approach (Epstein). Despite this, the US continues to enjoy some of the most prestigious and excellent universities including but not limited to Harvard, Cornell, Stanford and Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Additionally, community colleges offer two year academic training programs which could be considered during transfer to a college or university. Many students in US graduate from high school with a shallow idea of what they wish to become but get an opportunity to explore diverse career opportunities in community colleges during their first years of post high school education. This implies that universities are ranked higher compared to community colleges. Community colleges offer lower qualifications unlike universities which offer degrees ranging from diploma to doctorate.
Another difference between community colleges and universities is the cost of studying. Students in community colleges find it to meet financial needs of their education because of low cost rates (Epstein). This includes tuition fees and other expenses met by students before joining these institutions and even during their study time. As a result, students who spend their first two years in a community college are able to save money which to subsidize university costs which are relatively higher and unaffordable to some students. Universities are generally expensive because of the prestigious nature of degrees and doctorates. Career opportunities and the job market highly favor graduates from universities making them more expensive than community colleges. In other words, community colleges are more convenient especially for students hailing from poor backgrounds.
Universities and community colleges also differ in terms of size. Since universities in the United States have the mandate to offer a variety of sources ranging from diploma to doctorate, they are big in size as compared to community colleges (Epstein). Many American Universities have colleges within them offering different coerces. On the contrary, community colleges are generally small in size and some may offer limited variety of courses. It is however important to note that both institutions are significant in the education sector of the United States. With a lot of prestige attached to university education, America has continued to shine with best Universities and other learning institutions. However, community colleges are essential especially to international students who might be strange to the entire education system. They are more convenient in preparing students for degree studies and allow them to fit into the system without difficulties.