Guest Post by Ashley Murrell
May is a crucial month for high school seniors and higher education. All the acceptance letters have been handed out and now the time has come to chose just which university is right for you. It can cause even more pressure as future students check each day for wait list results. It’s a huge decision, deciding where you’re going to spend the next four years of your life and with the current economy, there’s more to take into account.
It’s the great debate: Whether to study for a two your community college (Associates’) or four year university (Bachelor’s) degree.
The degrees can range from IT training, dental hygienist, to the trade training of becoming a professional pastry chef or massage therapist. The bottom line is that technical degrees train while studying, taking less time and offering graduates experience before they take that first job. Unfortunately, these types of degrees get a bad rep from those who didn’t get one. Seen as ‘lower class’ or a waste of time, these type of technical degrees are truly for those that have a ‘calling’ and a passion right from the start. Vocational degrees vary state to state, and although they aren’t a ‘traditional’ form of education it doesn’t mean they shouldn’t have consideration.
The best thing about two year degrees is that it’s more affordable. The degree programs are shorter, making them cost less and as community colleges don’t have an on campus living situation this can allow the student to save money on housing by living at home. The class sizes are also smaller, allowing for students and professors to have a stronger interaction. Depending on the degree subject, hands on work experience may be a part of the degree, making finding employment after graduation a likely outcome. Technical community colleges train students directly for the work force and in half the time of a traditional degree. It can be an excellent way to still get an education but not end up with a massive amount of debt.
Community colleges lack the social atmosphere of a four year university. Living on campus doesn’t exist and many students base their undergraduate years on the social interactions that only college can provide. Even though the student still earns a degree, it weighs less than a traditional undergraduate degree. Many times students use their two year degree to transfer to a four year. This can be a great way to still achieve a traditional education although they’ve missed the influential beginning years.
It’s a ‘traditional’ degree that can be a requirement for nearly any job in the current economy. After high school it’s the next step in a student’s life. This is the time that is meant to be used to ‘figure out’ what one wants to do what one’s life. Whether staying in state or out of state, every four year university provides on campus housing providing a unique student oriented social scene.
Although operating at a slower pace, the four year degree is seen as a greater accomplishment than the two year. The extra allotted time can provide the student with more opportunities to learn lifetime skills. There can be a higher range of degree majors to choose from and greater chances to specialize in a given area. There’s also a sense of tradition, a solid network that’s built through study.
Four years is a decent chunk of time, and if a student fails a class that’s only offered once a year it can cause a major setback. It also costs a tremendous amount more, with tuition prices increasing each year. Traditional four universities can also be large with an overwhelming number of students in attendance, hindering the student and professor relationship.
Whichever degree you choose, there are always going to be options to help you decide which track is best for you. In the end an education is an education and it’s something that’s required for the work force in this current economy.
Bio: Originally from Seattle, WA, Ashley Murrell is a writer for Hotcouses Ltd, based in London, England covering topics about studying abroad in the USA as well as current higher education issues for She loves a good cuppa and is looking forward to the 2012 Olympic craziness.
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