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Community College

.. or lack the knowledge to attend a four-year university. Yet junior college have become a primary bridge leading students into four-year universities. Thus, junior colleges are adequately preparing students to compete at a university level. The increase in tuition and competition are causing many students to choose junior colleges over universities.

Junior college offers many students a cheap alternative to equivalent expensive university classes. They are not wasting their money on required classes that have little impact on their major. These students who are attending junior college to complete the general education requirements are making wise monetary decisions. At any level, junior college or university, a student must be serious about learning to achieve an education. Thus it takes more than wise educational decisions to create a successful student.

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Yet the stigma attached to junior colleges is a notion students learn to accept. Community colleges are different from other colleges and universities in many ways. The tuition fees are the most noticeable difference. Unlike universities, community colleges are lower in cost and size. The cost of attending a university could mean paying more than $10,000 a year. The fact is that many students wanting to attend a university are not able to afford that amount of money.

Some are forced to rely on a second job or find some type of financial aid to help assist them for the expenditures. At a community college you can get the similar courses you would get at a university for a much lower price. Not only is it lower in cost but the population of students compared to a university is much smaller. There are a number of students who are not able to take the courses they want due to the fact that the classes they choose are overcrowded with students. In community colleges, classrooms are not as overpopulated therefore enabling more students into the course.

In California, community colleges have a low cost per unit. Each student is required to pay $12.00 per unit, and typically a course is between three and five units. Twelve units per semester are considered full-time, which means a full-time community college student pays only $144.00 for their courses. This equates to $288.00 per academic year. This is significantly inexpensive compared with fees from other colleges and universities.

State funded schools are typically less expensive than private universities. In San Diego, both San Diego State University (SDSU) and University of California San Diego (UCSD) are state funded. SDSU charges its students two different rates. These rates are based on the amount of units the student takes in a semester. A student taking less than six units pay $618.00 per semester, whereas the student who takes more than six units pay $950.00.

A full-time student pays $1900.00 per year to attend SDSU (Emanski 319). Subsequently, UCSD has a different payment philosophy. They believe all students should be full-time, therefore all tuition fees are relatively equal. UCSD bases its academic calendar on the quarter system rather than the semester. This means per quarter, students at UCSD spend $1400.00 on their courses, which amounts to $4200.00 per year. Yet this is also relatively inexpensive when compared with private universities (329). Private universities, such as University of San Diego (USD) and Point Loma Nazarene, are very costly.

They do not receive financial support from California therefore their revenues are created directly from the student’s tuition. Courses at USD are $510.00 per unit, which means full-time students pay $6120.00 per semester and $12,240.00 per year (333). The tuition is practically mirrored at Point Loma Nazarene (316). There are other cost considerations such as books, supplies and parking permits, which have not been equated into their tuition costs. These other expenses will further increase the cost of attending college.

Yet cost is not the only difference between universities and colleges. Each school offers a limited range of degrees. These degrees can range from Associates degrees (A.A., A.S.), to Bachelors degrees (B.A. or B.S.), to Masters and Ph.D’s. Associate degrees are offered at community colleges. This degree requires roughly two years of course work, compared with the four to six years for a bachelors.

Unfortunately, community colleges are limited to associates degrees. Yet a community college allows students to transfer their courses to a university where higher degrees can be attained. Universities offer bachelors, masters and Ph.D degrees. It is at these universities where students are exposed, in depth, to their major (316-333). A student must complete many courses to obtain their degree.

Within these courses, students are exposed to classrooms, laboratories and lecture halls. Universities are known for having larger class sizes than community colleges. An introductory lecture’s average class size at UCSD is 300, where at a community college it is usually less than 40. Schools with smaller class sizes typically have greater success rates usually because instructors are able to devote more attention to individual students when the class size is small. The student/teacher ratio is another factor regarding the success of the student.

At SDSU, the ratio is 21:1, whereas the ratio at a community college is closer to 13:1 (316-333). Each of these differences contributes to stereotypes of the individual schools and the students who attend them. The misconception that the junior college is a place for the educationally challenged, or that it offers an inferior education, is complete hogwash. The junior college student will generally find the level of education to be on par with the four-year colleges. As we have seen, the community college has become an essential part of the educational system in our society by being the right step for many different people with many different circumstances.

For some students it provides a vehicle to transition from high school to the four-year college or university. For those people that are considering a career change, the community college provides the opportunity to learn a new skill or trade at an every reasonable cost. Yet for others, it simple affords the opportunity to continue ones educational goals, whenever one decides to resume his or her education. Education is important in life. Had there not been a community college system, many people would not have realized their educational goals.

As research has shown, without a formal education, most people are less likely to tap their full earning potential. It is important to look at the positives that the community college system provides to communities across the nation. If the people who discredit the community college system would take a deep look into it, they too would see the great fulfilling value of this institution known as the community college. Bibliography Brick, Michael. Forum and Focus for the Junior College Movement. New York: Teachers College, 1963. Emanski, Joseph G., ed.

Four Year Colleges. New Jersey: Petersons, 1998. Featherstone, Liza. “The Half-Price Diploma.” Rolling Stone. 797: 87-90. Mesa College 1998-1999 Catalog.

San Diego: SDCCD, 1998. Witt, Allen A., et al. Americas Community Colleges: The First Century. Washington, D.C.: Community College, 1994.


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