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Staff Writers
Updated March 24, 2021

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There are a couple of very good reasons to attend a community college before transferring to a four-year university, but there are also a couple of major drawbacks. Before you decide on which path to take, you need to look at both sides of the issue so you can make an informed decision.

It is much cheaper to attend a community college

Pro: A community college offers many of the same general classes that a four-year university does and at a fraction of the cost. Your first two years at a four-year college will be spent taking mostly general education courses, so by taking these same classes at a community college, you will be saving a lot of money. One of the largest barriers to getting a college education is the cost. The lower tuition at a community college helps stretch a college budget further and gives a person a better chance of earning their bachelor's degree.

You can earn an associate degree

Pro: You may find yourself going to college for two years full-time and needing to quit college for a while and enter the workforce. If this happens to you, an employer may not be impressed by the number of credits you earned at a four-year university. However, that same two years can mean earning an associate degree. Granted, it is a two-year degree and not a four-year degree. However, it is a college degree and employers understand the value of a degree.

Many classes are not transferable

Con: There are many courses that are taught at a community college that are not accepted by a four-year university, so you will not earn any credit toward your bachelor's degree. Many of these courses are obvious such as the ones teaching a specific vocational skill. However, it is also true that certain classes that you might assume are transferable are not. Reading from a four-year university catalog, the course at a community college may seem the same as the four-year university, but the university may think that the level of learning is not sufficient to accept it as an equivalent. It may be due to the curriculum or the course is not taught by an instructor with a Ph.D. but only a master's degree. It is best to talk to a counselor at a four-year college to find out if the course can be transferred, but you will need to know which university you plan on attending for your last two years.

Smaller selection of classes

Con: There are usually fewer classes offered that can be transferred to a four-year university, so if the plan is to go to a community college for two years and transfer all of your earned credits, this may not be possible. Even at a large community college offering a wide range of classes, you may not be able to earn two years worth of credits. Of course, you may be able to attend for a year or so before transferring. You need to look ahead at everything offered at a community college before enrolling in your first semester.


Although there are a couple of drawbacks to attending a community college in the first couple of years of your pursuit of a bachelor's degree, with proper preparation, you can save money and still receive a quality education.

Related: Best Value Schools - How Soon Should High School Students Begin Applying to Colleges

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