Universities vs. Community Colleges: Pros and Cons

Anytime we discuss higher education, the conversation of whether or not attending a community college vs a university is better comes up. There is no real answer to that because none of us have the exact same goals. What can be said though is that whichever one you choose, it will be up to you to decide how to utilize the knowledge and experiences they offer.

Each establishment will have a tremendous amount of things to offer, but also a few things that aren’t so desirable. Here is what you should consider when you compare a community college vs a university:

A row of beige bookshelves.


Buzzing and vibrant, but also competitive and costly.


A university will naturally have an abundance of resources and networking opportunities because they’re typically larger and more recognized nationally. For every building and department, there are a million resources like scholarships, tutoring, study abroad options, the list is literally never-ending. You will also gain a more in-depth and robust education because their programs are likely more developed and curriculum is more intense. At a university, everyone is racing at an upward trajectory, which is nice because you get to help one another and expand your network, but it also becomes competitive.

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Be aware that a university has its downsides. With everyone racing to the top, it’s easy to become a number, lost in the chaos. This is why it’s important to showcase yourself as unique in this environment. Also, admittedly universities are not always cheap. According to College Data, the average in-state cost for one school year at a university is upwards of $19,000, not including parking, and miscellaneous spending that will occur.


In general, the university is high risks, but well worth it. The personal development and revenue potential that comes from a university is honestly unparalleled.

Community College:

Friendly and fundamental, but narrow-scoped.


A community college will offer you comfort and a very tight-knit sense of community, a refreshing perk. Also, for those of us planning to attend universities, this is the perfect place to get your feet wet. The relatively slow pace and relaxed environment gives you room to grow and get into the swing of things.

Community colleges are also cost-efficient, saving you both time and money in the long run. If you plan on attending a university it would be a wise move to knock out those core classes here. Some of us may not want to spend money taking them at a university when you can get the same information for cheaper.


But because community colleges are very foundational and low risk in general, they are meant to be a start-off to your academic journey and offer rather basic educational experiences. This means that the degrees granted from community college aren’t going to be terminal. Meaning the degree won’t warrant you a high leadership position that can offer you stability. Terminal degrees vary from field to field, but are very rare and typically an associate degree doesn’t count as one.


Ultimately, if you maximize your experiences who know what you may get out of community college vs a university. The first step is being aware of what you want out of your education and then, being conscious of what your institution has to offer.

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