Community college considered

For students that want to obtain a college degree after high school, two main options come to mind: attend a four-year college or university or attend a community college and transfer to a four-year college after completing an associate’s degree.
Among high school students, many see community college as the right choice for them after graduating high school. Senior Tyler Grajek will be attending Pierce College next year and feels that community college students will get the same opportunities as students who attend four-year colleges.
“Basically I feel that if I go to a community college I will still have the same degree as anybody else. I will still be able to have the same advantages. They are not getting anything special. Community colleges are smaller. It is cheaper,” Grajek said. “You are going to get more time with your teachers because there will not be as many students compared to the amount of students at a four-year college.”
On the other hand, teacher Matt White claims that two-year and four-year colleges are indeed different. The transferring process at two-year colleges can eventually lead students to universities, while saving a substantial amount of money. However, community colleges differ scholastically from universities.
“A community college is not academically at the same level as four-year schools. It just is not. [Community college] is a step above high school obviously but it is not the level of University of Washington. You have those kinds of negatives,” White said.
White continues to explain the difference between the two types of colleges and the disadvantage of attending community colleges, compared to four-year colleges.
“Another negative is that you are in classes with a variety of people at a two-year college. You have the kids who barely graduated high school who cannot get a job, who are not going to get a job or do not want to get a job. You have the people who are coming back to school because they had a job they lost or are interested in retraining,” White said. “In two-year colleges you have this huge range of why people are there. That is why the success rate at community colleges are significantly lower compared to kids who go to a four-year college straight out of high school.”
Senior Kelli Vitt is currently in Running Start at Pierce College. She will continue attending Pierce College next year to complete her associate’s degree. Vitt shares her views about the distinction between the two types of colleges.
“[Community colleges] are not as big as universities. You do not get the entire university experience. Sporting events are not as much of a big deal and there is not a marching band. It is not like you are at a university. But I do not think it is not that different from a university besides housing,” Vitt said.
From Vitt’s point of view, there are not huge differences between the two types of colleges. Vitt describes her community college experience while attending Pierce College.
“It is community-based. You do a lot of things in the community that you are already living in. I also like the smaller class sizes and you do not have the stress that comes with a university. I get along with all of my teachers there,” Vitt said.
Despite the contrast between community colleges and four-year colleges and universities, White feels that community college is a good option for students that would like to save money, while attaining a college education.
“Anyone should consider going to a community college. If you are going to go into debt trying to go to a four-year school, my question is ‘why?’ Very rarely is it worth the debt load that you are going to get when you graduate from college,” White said. “If you can lower that debt by going to a community college, it would be a wise thing.”