How Big Are Classes in Community Colleges?

Classes in community colleges are usually smaller than in most universities. This in-depth guide, however, will show you how that could work to your advantage.

Key Takeaways

Classes in community colleges are usually smaller than in most universities. This in-depth guide, however, will show you how that could work to your advantage.

Most community colleges have smaller classes than your typical 4-year universities. But is having smaller classes really a bad thing or can you smartly use that to your benefit?

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Click to learn more about Unmudl and Amazon Original Course

In this detailed guide, we will not only show you when it is best to be in a small class but also how you can use smaller classes to your great advantage. Read on to see how 5.4 million American students are using community college to get ahead in life.

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So, exactly how big are classes in community colleges?

In community colleges the average number of students in a class range between 25 to 35 while a typical university lecture hall can have anywhere from 150 to 300 students. 

Because of their smaller class size, community colleges have great benefits for students, especially those seeking to get more one-to-one attention from their instructors.

To understand this, however, we first need to quickly explain what community colleges are, what function they serve in a community, and how they are different from a university.

A university Classroom
Photo by Sara Pfefer from Flickr

Quick Review: What is a community college?

A community college, also known as a junior college, is a higher education institution that generally offers a 2-year associate’s degree, diploma, or certificate. Some community colleges do offer a 4-year bachelor’s degree program, but this is not common.

Community colleges are supported by the government to help improve the economic condition of the communities they operate in and this is what makes them special. Most of the courses offered at these institutions directly help students and employers come together so that the community prospers.

Community colleges can do this because, unlike other institutions, they are in sync with businesses in their surrounding areas. They know where the employment supply and demand gaps are. This puts them in a unique position to offer courses that directly help close these gaps.

For example, a community college in a city that is experiencing a shortage of nursing professionals will focus on offering courses that will prepare students to apply for these specific jobs. For a list of courses designed to meet real job opportunities click here.

So community colleges help people train for existing job opportunities that will result in probable employment. Additionally, community colleges also help employed people train in advanced skills for their current jobs so that they can get promotions and climb higher up on the career ladder. 

This great article is an in-depth guide on how to use community college education to change or advance your career. 

When does it help to have a smaller class size?

Now coming to class size, it is a key difference between a community college and a university. There are many instances when students opt for a smaller class size at a community college rather than a large class at a 4-year university program.

If you find yourself in any of the following situations, a community college course with smaller more focused classes will be ideal for you.

If you already have a full-time or part-time job

So you already have a much-needed job, but you want to educate yourself to change your career, or perhaps you want to get that elusive promotion that will finally get you a better salary and a promotion.

Juggling work and academics is very difficult with a university program because in most cases you will have to quit your job to manage the load of a full-time 4-year degree program.

The average student in a community college, on the other hand, works 35 or more hours per week. These colleges are very accommodating to people who are earning to support their families by offering evening classes and manageable class sizes to help students get more one-to-one attention from their instructors. 

If you are a parent and struggling with studies

Imagine trying to juggle university with the demands of parenthood. In the US there are more than 4.8 million undergraduate students who are also parents. Now imagine with all that going on in your life, you have to also fight for the teacher’s attention with 130 other students in a typical university class.

Many parents, with so much on their plate already, struggle with studies and this is when smaller class sizes at a community college really stand out as a great option to consider.

Community colleges are not only accommodating to the demands of parenthood, some even go as far as offering services like daycare and housing assistance for parents.

If you generally find studies difficult

Many students struggle through high school for varied reasons. While universities, with their tough entry criteria, do not entertain these students, community colleges actually welcome them and give them a second chance.

For this reason, even students who have struggled in the past, come to community college to get their foot into the higher education system. But it’s not just about giving students a chance, the smaller classes at community colleges give you more access to teachers. This is exactly what students struggling with studies need.

Additionally, if your grades won’t allow you to get into a two-year associate’s degree program, a community college can help you with short-term vocational certificate courses that can get you a job quickly.

If you can’t afford a university degree

Huge university campuses with large lecture halls may be appealing to some but they also come with a huge price tag. The average annual fee for private colleges was a whopping $35,830 according to a recent U.S. News Data report. 

If you compare that to tuition at a community college which costs an annual average of $3,660 for in-state students, it is a fraction of what 4-year universities/colleges cost.

Not only is the tuition low already, but there is also further financial assistance available to students if they need it through various federal and state grants. All this makes community colleges with smaller campuses and smaller class sizes a more practical option for such students.

A Community College Classroom
Photo by rawpixel from Freepik

How does it help to have a smaller class size?

Now that you understand when it is ideal for you to have a smaller college classroom size, it’s time to discuss what are some key benefits they bring. There has been a lot of debate on small class size and its effects, but some benefits like the ones listed below are very obvious. 

Unmudl Tip: For an in-depth article on all the benefits of attending a community college read this excellent article.

Academic performance

There is a direct link to college class size and student achievement. Students in smaller classes perform better in subjects when compared to students in larger classes. Not only that, they score higher on standardized assessments. 

This is even more evident for minority and non-native English speakers who tend to be shy in engaging teachers in large classes. 

Smaller classes also help those students who need help the most, like students with jobs, young parents, etc. Because of the class size, teachers can give more time to these students and help them keep up with the rest of the class.

Student engagement

In smaller classes, students tend to engage more with teachers and this is another area that is as important as academic performance because it leads to a more active learning style. Students in large classes are less likely to engage with teachers and more likely to just listen passively.

Because of this increased engagement, when asked, students in smaller classes tend to have a better relationship with their teachers and evaluate their teachers and classes more favorably.

Long-term success

Because of all these benefits, students tend to have a better educational foundation and this, in turn, leads to prospects including continued success in academics and life in general. These benefits are even more apparent amongst minorities and less privileged students. 

College class size research shows that while on average 2.7% of all students show signs of long-term success, 5.4% of African Americans and 7.3% of the poorest third of US students showed continued success due to studying in smaller class sizes.

Teacher fatigue

Class size has an impact on retaining effective teachers. College class size problems start becoming evident when teachers are overloaded with work due to too many students per class.

Overburdened, teachers tend to look for other positions and colleges, and ironically, instead of rewarding effective teachers with smaller class sizes, educational institutions tend to assign an even larger class to them.

It’s a vicious circle that unintentionally leads to tired and uninterested teaching staff.

Recommended community colleges

If after looking at all the benefits listed above you think that smaller class sizes at community colleges are better for you, then you can search Unmudl for courses that may interest you and even get you hired quickly.

Here are some community colleges we recommend. For a lot more community college options and details, click here


The average class size at community colleges is 25 to 35 making it beneficial for many students who may not find large crowded classes at regular universities attractive. 

There is a lot of debate on the impact of class size but it is a no-brainer to see that when there are fewer students in a class, teachers and students interact better and interact more. Because of these benefits, students from smaller classes also tend to do better in the future in further studies and life in general.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Question 1: What is the average college class size?

What is the ideal college class size?

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Click to learn more about Unmudl and Amazon Original Course
Click to learn more about Unmudl and Amazon Original Course
Last updated on:
February 22, 2024


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