COLUMN: Community college versus traditional university: Which educational path is best?

Save up or ship out. This is a decision that each and every college student has to make, and it’s not exactly an easy one at that.

Sofi Zeman is a first-year journalism major at MU. She is an opinion columnist who writes about interpersonal growth and interaction.

Young adults often have clashing opinions about different educational paths. While some choose to leave the house and move on to a traditional four-year university, others opt to stay home, save up and attend community college. Although many of us at MU have already made this decision, the decision is never permanent. This leaves the burning question of which path is better than the other.

Perhaps the largest attraction of a four-year university is the traditional college lifestyle that comes with it. Swapping out a house with homemade food for a dining hall and dorm life is a staple aspect of this transitional phase in life. To many people, college is about the experience. Football games, greek life, parties and memories that are sure to last a lifetime often assist in students’ decision to take the more traditional route. College living also introduces students to new people from a myriad of backgrounds. This not only has the potential to form positive relationships, but can also create multiple new perspectives and ways of thinking.

Educationally, attending a university can be helpful. The working world revolves around the use of networking. Larger universities serve as a major outlet to form business connections and acquire internships early on, proving that it doesn’t hurt to know people. Whether ethical or not, it’s been proven that a student’s choice of school has an impact on where they end up in terms of employment. More often than not, those who attend recognizable universities have a better chance at receiving a job offer.

Price is the number one reason people opt to attend community college instead of getting an education at a university. With national student loan debt reaching the trillions, it makes sense to want a clear way to avoid adding to the statistic, according to The Economist. For this reason, it’s understandable why some would rather save the money they have.

To some, the college lifestyle and potential connections simply aren’t worth the money they cost. Some simply prefer to live at home, in nicer conditions, rather than spend money to have to deal with the horrors of a communal bathroom. Staying home is a way to get some separation between school and everyday life instead of living at school.

It’s clear that both paths have their own advantages and drawbacks, which is why it’s illogical to assume one is simply better than the other. Different people aspire to different things in life. It’s as simple as that. Some want the authentic college lifestyle and others feel that it’s simply not worth the money. It’s also important to note that choosing both college paths is an option as well. Many also transfer to a university after completing two years of community college. This allows students to save up for a few years as well as get a feel for the college experience. Regardless of where a student stands on the topic, it’s important that this stance is being made based on what they truly want.

Edited by Bryce Kolk | bkolk@themaneater.com

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