The Pros and Cons of Pursuing a Two-Year DegreeBy Huntington Learning Center
As your student nears the end of high school, maybe you’ve asked the question: is there another option aside from my child moving away to attend a four-year college or university?
While there’s no question that a bachelor’s degree has several advantages over an associate degree, a two-year degree is a great option that might be worth considering. Here are some of the pros and cons of a two-year degree over a four-year degree:
- Acceptance is a given – Most community colleges have open admission policies, which means they accept any applicant with a high school diploma or GED. There are some exceptions for certain programs—such as some nursing programs, which require students to apply—but generally, students who want to attend these schools are welcome.
- GPA is not a consideration – Because of their open admission policy, two-year schools are a good option for students who have not maintained a strong high school GPA. Also, for students who are interested in transferring to a four-year college, it’s important to note that starting at a two-year institution gives them the chance to establish better habits and earn better grades than they might have in high school.
- Cost is more affordable – According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the average tuition and fees in 2019-2020 for a public two-year college totaled $3,800, which is significantly less than the average public four-year institution tuition ($9,400). If cost is on your family’s mind, community colleges are an excellent option.
- It’s flexible – Your student can live with you while attending a two-year college. Admissions are often year-round, so your student won’t have to worry too much about navigating a lot of application deadlines. And classes are generally accommodating of working adults as well as teens, with some night, weekend and online options.
- Fewer options – Because two-year colleges often encourage students to transfer to finish their four-year degrees elsewhere, the curriculum is more limited. Your student will be able to complete their general education courses and a few courses within a certain field of study at a two-year college, but for a more robust education, they’ll have to go elsewhere.
- Four-year degrees aren’t usually an option – While some community colleges are starting to offer bachelor’s degrees in certain areas of study, mostly, two-year institutions offer associate degrees only. And while a college degree is better than no college degree, many employers will not be nearly as impressed with candidates with associate degrees as they are with those who hold bachelor’s degrees.
- Not all classes transfer – Many students go to community colleges when they aren’t ready for a four-year college or university, but they don’t always realize that some courses will not transfer to their eventual destination. Highly specialized Associate of Applied Science degrees are designed for students to complete and start working in that field, not for transfer. And even with Associate of Arts and Associate of Science degrees, four-year colleges often limit the number of allowed credit transfer hours. Your student will need to meet with an admissions advisor at their destination college to ensure they understand all the rules and details.
It's up to your student to decide if a two-year community college is the right fit for them. But when comparing two-year vs. four-year schools, keep in mind that there are many important differences. The community college pathway could be perfect for your student, allowing them to become accustomed to college-level work, build independence, improve their GPA and prepare to transfer to a four-year college. But it’s still college, and will require hard work, research to make the most of your student’s time (by taking transferrable courses if transferring is the plan) and diligence.
If your student is college bound but you’re questioning how ready they are for the challenge, Huntington can help. We tutor students who lack the study skills and school stamina required in college to help them become more self-sufficient, independent students. With the right skills, knowledge and attitude, your student can finish high school strong and prepare for college success. Call us at 1-800 CAN LEARN.