Is Community College Easier Than a University?

This in-depth guide shows you how things like lower tuitions and flexibility make education easier for students at community colleges.
Many aspects of a community college make it easier than a university. In this article, we will show you how community colleges can make your life easier without compromising on the quality of the education you get.

Is community college easier? Education is but one aspect of studying at a community college. In terms of tuition, ease of admission, flexibility, school-life balance, and many other factors, community colleges are definitely “easier” than a university. 

If, on the other hand, you ask us if community college classes are somehow easier than a university class then the answer is: it depends.

While many community college courses are not as rigorous as university courses, there are a lot of community college courses that are right on par with universities.    

This comprehensive guide will show you 5 important ways studying in a community college will make life easier for you. 

Not only that, we will even show you how to transfer to a university after your 2-year associate’s degree in case you want to get a full 4-years bachelor’s degree from a university! 

So grab a cup of coffee and discover why 12.4 million American students chose community college.

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How is community college easier than a university?

The difference between a community college and a university is that the former makes life easier in many ways. Community colleges are easier to get into, lighter on the wallet, more flexible, and often times easier environments for learning. 

All these things add up to make for a relatively easier learning experience. Let’s look at some of the important factors to see how life at community college is easier.

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

1. Easier to get in

The main difference between a 2-year community college and a 4-year university, besides the obvious duration, is that community colleges are typically easier to get into. 

This is due in part because community colleges were founded by the government to help support their communities.

The way they do this is by looking at the businesses around them and offering short certificate courses and 2-year associate’s degrees to quickly deploy and bridge workforce supply and demand gaps.

Also by their very nature, they are designed to make education available to non-traditional students. (Here is an excellent article on how easy it is to get into community college.)

Parents who can’t balance a full university education along with the demands of raising young children, full-time employees who can’t leave their jobs for financial reasons, students who were unlucky to get bad grades in high school but want a second chance… all these people your typical university may reject.

Community colleges, on the other hand, want to help these people. They don’t even require you to take SATs or ACTs. 

Wondering about community college vs university entrance essays? 

Most community colleges don’t even require you to write an essay. All you need is a high school diploma and proof of residency.

They usually require you to take a placement test which is only used to determine your level of education. If required they may at most ask you to take some remedial classes.

Related: Is Community College Worth It?

Easy to transfer

Another important aspect is transferring to a university if the student feels the need. Because of the many benefits that community colleges offer, including low tuition as we will see next, many students are now opting to spend the first two years of their post-secondary education at a community college.

Once these students complete their 2-year associate’s degree, they can apply to a university for a transfer. 

If the credits are successfully transferred then the student enters directly into the third year of that university as a junior. Why would you want to do that? Tuition, of course…

2. Easier on your wallet

Tuition at community college is easier on your wallet for sure. The average tuition fee at a community college is $3,440 which happens to be a tenth of what it costs at a university.

A private university may cost you an average of $32,410.

Earlier we asked why would anyone want to start at a community college to get an associate’s degree, and then transfer to a university? Well, now you can see the reason. The money you save on tuition is too big a reason to ignore.

NCSES (National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics) reports that more than half (52%) of university students had previously attended a community college and 25% had earned an associate’s degree from a community college.

Financial Aid

On top of these savings, many community college students are open to further financial assistance in the shape of scholarships, childcare support, and even subsidized accommodations when available.

Related: Guide to free community colleges


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3. Academic flexibility makes life, education, and success easier

A community college is a great way to ease into higher education if you have struggled in high school or have taken a long break since then. One of the great advantages of community college is that you can study at your own pace.

About 64% of people study at community college part-time pacing their education as per their needs.

Combined with the low tuition, some students even use this flexibility to test if different areas of education are what they want to commit to for the rest of their lives.

One of my friends always wanted to become a doctor but when she enrolled at a community college and found out how difficult it was she switched to nursing. She simply felt that she did not want to commit to so much work with her genuine real-life priorities.

Community college helped her adjust to her new courses without creating a hassle and even helped her plan for her new career choice.

School-life balance

Unlike universities which have relatively more rigid requirements to pace studies, community colleges are very accommodating. 

The reason for this is, as mentioned earlier, they want to help non-traditional students get access to education. 

So if for any reason you are struggling with continuing your education, they will accommodate you.

Many community colleges even offer you the option to study in the evenings or to study purely online. This is ideal for people with full-time jobs and such.

4. Personalized attention makes learning easier

The average community college has 25 to 35 students compared to a university class which may have anywhere from 150 to 300. This is a key reason why education is more engaging and personalized at community colleges.

For non-traditional students juggling with the demands of life, education can be daunting. Community colleges with smaller classes give students more access to instructors who are sympathetic to their struggles thereby easing the process of learning.

Academic performance

Research has shown that there is a direct link between class size and a student’s performance. Students in smaller classes have been shown to do better in studies and they score better on assessment tests.

This is primarily due to the personalized attention they get from teachers. In a class with 150 to 300 students, it would be very difficult for teachers to do that.

Student engagement

In larger settings students who need the attention most, end up being ignored. These are minority students and non-native English speakers who tend to be shy when engaging in larger classes.

At community colleges, with their smaller class sizes, these students not only find it easier to engage with teachers but the smaller settings also help them become part of the student community.

Due to this increased engagement, students become more active participants in the class whereas in very large classes most of them tend to become passive observers.

Also because of this, 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

All of this of course leads to students performing better and building a more solid educational foundation resulting in better prospects including continued success in academics and life in general. 

These benefits are even more apparent amongst minorities and less privileged students. 

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 because of studying in smaller class sizes.

5.Career pathways make employment easier

We have already talked about how community colleges are in tune with the workforce needs of their communities. This is a very important aspect of how community college makes it easier for you to quickly land a job.

Working in partnership with local businesses, community colleges focus on developing short-term training and education programs that can quickly fill gaps in the workforce. 

This is a win-win situation as businesses get the employees they need and people in the community get employment.

Changing careers

Another great role that community colleges play is in making it easier for people to grow in their existing jobs and to change their careers altogether.

Their short term-certification programs and the two-year associate’s degree are ideal if you want to advance in your current job. It also works well if you want to change your career to something more profitable or something more fulfilling to you.

Unmudl Tip: If you are thinking about changing careers here is our in-depth guide to help you do just that. It’s a step-by-step guide that shows you how hundreds of thousands of Americans are using community colleges to better their livelihood and their future.

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Important note on academic quality at community colleges

Is chemistry easier at community college? Is it easy to get 4.0 in community college?

After all this discussion one might get the feeling that perhaps all aspects of community college are easier.

This leaves a general impression that education or specific courses like chemistry are easier there than at a university which in turn misleads people to think that the quality of education at community college is lower than at a university.

But that’s not a great assumption to make. 

The main reason why community colleges have grown so much in popularity recently is that they have greatly improved their academic standards. 

In fact, the quality and standard of education at community colleges these days are accepted by universities and employers throughout the U.S. and some courses are even at par with reputable universities.

To wrap things up

Yes, community college is easier for students than a university is in many ways. It is not easy by way of having poor quality education; but instead, by providing many facilities that universities can simply not offer.

We showed you how community colleges are set up differently to focus on doing just that. Their core purpose to serve their communities helps them design their educational programs to make life, education, and success easier. 

So do yourself a favor and take up this opportunity to look at community colleges around you. You might just end up making your life easier.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is university harder than community college?

In terms of the quality of education they are the same, but many other aspects like low tuition and flexibility make life at community college easier.

Is it better to go to a community college or university?

Community colleges can help you save a lot on tuition which is why even those students who want to go to university spend the first two years at a community college than get a transfer.

What is the difference between a community college and a university?

Most community colleges offer short-term certificates and 2-year associate’s degree courses, while universities offer 4-year bachelor’s programs.

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