View Full Version : community college vs. university ... and how do they compare with high school?

Julie Y
11-23-2011, 08:10 PM
My 17 yo dd is a senior in (public) high school, contemplating her plans for next year. At the moment (although this changes day to day), she is leaning toward going to a local community college for two years and then transferring to the state university. She will have some (fencing) scholarship money that can be applied to either one, but the community college will be much more affordable so that she won't start out taking on debt.

If your children have been to a community college, can you please tell us what it was like? If they've experienced both community college and a university, even better. :D

DD's older sisters went to (three different) universities directly from high school. I did get a AA degree from a community college but that was 30 years ago so I don't know how the atmosphere has changed since then. (back then, there were a lot of adult learners).

One of dd's main questions is, will it feel different from high school? She is heartily sick of high school and is afraid that a community college will be more of the same (pettiness, apathy, etc).

Any insights/advice you can give re: choosing between community college and university would be much appreciated!

11-23-2011, 08:52 PM
My kids aren't done with high school yet, but I attended CC 100 miles away for my first 2 years and then transferred to a university 2,000 miles away to finish my degree.

I ab-so-lute-ly adored my CC. I still think so fondly of it. Everyone was open and interested in meeting new people, making new friends. Cliques weren't a problem, teachers expected you to take care of yourself and so it wasn't like high school at all for me! It felt very much like college. My teachers were excellent - even better than most of my university teachers because they were passionate, approachable and they weren't a TA. I did enjoy my university as well, but there was just something special about my CC experience. It was a great stepping stone to the less personal university experience.

I still highly recommend checking out CC's. Add the bonus of saving serious money and I think it's a no-brainer. I just saw an article that said attendance is up at CC's because of the economy. I also liked that there were people of different ages and so you learned to not as peer dependent as high school was.

Julie Y
11-24-2011, 08:49 AM
Thanks, CJ, that's just the kind of info I'm looking for. :)

Anyone else btdt?

Dawn of Kansas
11-24-2011, 09:38 AM
Erin is currently attending our local CC and loves it. Yes, a lot of adult learners, some wacky professors, but she's had a good experience. Now I don't want this to sound prejudiced, but we have really strived to make sure that all her teachers are American/English speaking. We've known too many people who get a professor from another country and have a really difficult time understanding the course and end up hating it or dropping the class. This is not meant to discriminate against them, but I knew that how quiet she is that it would be a miserable learning environment. Hope that makes sense.

Our goal is for her to finish there because between financial aid and what little we have to pay it makes so much more sense financially. Our CC is only $85 a credit hour. Then she'll transfer to another school which she hasn't decided. Alan doesn't want her coming out with school debt, so I'm not sure how we're going to make this happen. I want her to experience dorm life and make some lifelong friends, like I did.

My niece attended and nephew attends a CC in California, and I think for the most part has enjoyed it. My niece is now attending Bob Jones.

Anita Terpstra
11-24-2011, 10:04 AM
HI Julie!
My dd is in CC and she has had a fantastic experience, except for the first semester of transition out of high school. The transition to the campus that was mostly adult learners was very isolating and it caused her some personal difficulties. This was primarily because they usually only come for 1 or 2 classes and don't really want to interact or connect. She transfered to the campus that had very few adult learners and more of a college atmosphere. She ended up getting all music scholarships and is now on academic scholarship preparing for their 2 year nursing program that gets rave reviews. She has held down multiple jobs as she's been schooling and will not be saddled with debt when she's finished. :clap: She has her AA and is getting some nursing pre-reqs out of the way with the scholarship.
In hindsight, it might have been a good idea for her to get dual credit during high school but logistics made that impossible.
2 of my sons went right to colleges out of state and it has been a financial burden. There are also very similar issues, as far as quality of teaching, in both the colleges and CC. The kids really thrive because they were taught how to learn and not to lean on what a teacher does or does not feed them. Thanks to FIAR!!:)
"If you can get your AA and transfer, it shows the colleges and future employers that you can really apply yourself and not fritter your time away." my dd. She also said to research your teachers. She was able to find some fantastic instructors by asking a lot of questions of other students.
Ultimately, it's been God's direction and provision that has them where they are but in my opinion, the CC has been a terrific fit for my dd.
ETA: DD found it easier to be in CC, compared to high school, academically. As far as pettiness, apathy etc... you find that pretty much everywhere. It depends on who you connect with. In the Gen Ed classes, a lot of kids end up dropping classes and wasting time." You just have to be mature about it."
For Alis, getting connected with the music department was key because they had requirements that were attached to her scholarship. She had to meet those in attendance and grades, and she was doing something she loved with like minded people.

Hope that helps a little.

Dawn of Kansas
11-24-2011, 10:18 AM
There's a website called, I think, grademyprofessor.com that Erin often uses to check out her professors. It's for all schools and students put in their opinion of the professor.

Erin just commented that at CC class sizes are smaller; at least at hers.

11-24-2011, 10:41 AM
There's a website called, I think, grademyprofessor.com that Erin often uses to check out her professors. It's for all schools and students put in their opinion of the professor.

Erin just commented that at CC class sizes are smaller; at least at hers.

I found this site:
Rate My Professors (www.ratemyprofessors.com/)

Merrilee Morse
11-24-2011, 02:37 PM
I am late coming in on this and have not read the other replies, but according to DJ, there is a world of difference between high school and CC. For one thing, the kids are there because they WANT to be there, not because they are forced by law to be there. Such a different attitude in the young people. I think CC can vary according to location, some are better than others. Those in large cities with a huge minority population can tend to have easier classes than those in smaller communities, so you might want to take that into consideration. I have heard a lot of complaints from CC teachers in inner cities that they feel the students are underprepared.

Gwen in Texas
11-24-2011, 09:14 PM
Karis is attending cc this year. She said it feels like high school because she gets out of bed, gets in her car, leaves her house, and goes to class. She said it is all different people, so it is okay. :)

Meg is taking dual credit classes at cc this year. She said the social feel is very different from high school. People are there to learn, not to talk. She has made one friend, but since she is a hs junior, everyone is 2 to ? years older than she. She does work out in between classes at the gym with a friend from youth group.

I personally think cc is such a sensible choice. This is only our first year, so you might take everything I say with a grain of salt.

And may I just say again, I love you, Julie Y!

Kathy White
11-24-2011, 10:53 PM
All three of my boys have done the CC route first. My oldest son went to public high school from 10-12 grades and then went to CC for two years before transferring to NC State. He loved CC. In high school he felt like they "babied" the students, but in CC it was more like university in that if no one was looking over your shoulder to make sure you did your work. He had no problem transitioning from high school to CC nor did he have a problem transitioning from CC to university. I do think he would have had difficulty going from high school straight into university. He will graduate next December from NC State.

For us the $$$ clinched it. We paid around $1000 per semester (including books) for CC and more like $4500 per semester for university - and that does not include living on campus or a meal plan. My son lives with his grandmother.

My middle son is in his second year of CC and plans to transfer to NC State as soon as he gets his AA. He'll transfer in as a junior. Once again the $$$ difference is incredible. Also, this son did dual enrollment in high school and was able to go in with several credit hours under his belt. :)

My youngest son is at the local CC working towards his high school diploma.

laurie in ok
11-25-2011, 11:08 AM
Julie - This is not personal experience - but a friend's. Her dd was wanting to go to a larger University, and planned to do so after her first year, but fell in love with her CC. She is staying there, and plans to graduate from CC. She has developed some great friendships, and gotten very involved with student life. Loves it.

Susan Seaman
11-25-2011, 03:48 PM
I guess I'll give a dissenting view.

My daughter attended classes at the local CC for dual enrollment her last two years of high school. She then started a four-year Christian college this year.

For her, it is a night and day difference. She found most of her classes at CC to be embarrassingly easy and a "waste of time." By comparison, her classes at Milligan College are excellent and challenging. I had thought she might want to take a summer school class at CC this next summer, and she said absolutely not. She might take classes at the local state university, but she said she never wants to go back to CC.

I've told her to be careful not to "talk it down," as many of her friends go there and her brothers may end up going there in a few years.

She got a full scholarship to college, so the $ wasn't a factor. I realize that in many cases it is.