Every year, high school students around the country rush home from football practices, orchestra rehearsals and friends’ houses to rummage through their mailbox. They hope to see a thick envelope from their dream university.
There are few greater joys than opening up an envelope from their first choice of schools and reading the words, “We are pleased to offer you admission to our university.” That joy is followed by a quick drive to a friend’s house to compare acceptance letters.
It won’t be long after that until photos of the acceptance letter are posted on Instagram and Facebook where friends and family will post congratulatory comments. It’s a rite of passage that has happened to high school students for years.
A photo that probably won’t be as quickly uploaded to social media sites is an acceptance letter from a community college. Nobody boasts about his or her admittance to community college, which is essentially high school where smoking is allowed.
A big advantage to starting at a university rather than a community college is greater networking opportunities.
Community colleges have some networking opportunities, many community college professors worked years in their field of study and have good connections. But the amount of networking opportunities simply does not compare to the amount available at a university.
The expression, “It’s about who you know, not what you know,” mostly still rings true today. According to a 2011 survey from Right Management, 41 percent said they landed a job through networking.
By going to a university instead of a local community college a student broadens his or her horizons.
Since students are at a university for at least three years they are likely to share multiple classes with the same people. Students at universities have more time to build connections with classmates in their major and professions.
Another reason to choose a university over a community college is the atmosphere. Even at commuter universities the atmosphere is livelier than a community college. Community colleges lack the school spirit universities have. Half of the students at community college are not even aware their school has athletics or other organizations that school spirit is built on.
The social life at universities is greater than the social life at community colleges. Almost every university has fraternities and sororities that community colleges lack. The bonds these Greek students build with their brothers and sisters last beyond his or her time as a student. Even for students that aren’t enticed by the idea of Greek life, there are more opportunities for parties and fun at universities.
The one drawback of going straight to a university out of high school is the cost. According to Forbes, in 2010-2011 the average community college student paid $2,713 in tuition, a tenth of the tuition students at private universities pay. But the extra two years at a university are worth the extra expenses.
The above statistic states students at private universities pay 10 times more in tuition than community college students. While this is true, students at public universities pay much less than private school students.
So the price a student should expect to pay at a public university such as Cal State Fullerton shouldn’t cause them too much alarm.
Grants, scholarships and loans also make college easier to pay for than it would appear at first.
While going to a community college may be more affordable, it is not more valuable. The social and networking benefits of universities justify the extra expenses.