UW Oshkosh’s three campuses offer students the option of a two-year or four-year college experience, and as someone who has experience with both types of colleges, they both have their own unique benefits and abysmal drawbacks.
While both types of colleges offer a great route towards whatever degree you’re seeking, the two provide vastly different experiences in terms of college life.
For starters, the campus of a university is more thrilling than that of a community college. Universities offer far more exciting amenities and resources than community colleges do.
It would be extremely rare to find a giant recreation center for students to work out at or multiple food vendors to get lunch and dinner on a community college campus.
Classroom resources at universities are also obviously more impressive than their community college counterparts.
Universities have more students and more money to provide everyone with fancy lab equipment and a greater variety of technology.
The smaller amount of students in community colleges ultimately means smaller class sizes, which can provide a greater chance to get to know professors.
At the same time, it means no lecture pits to hide away in the corner of the room to avoid the professors’ glares when ignoring questions they ask.
Fewer students also equates to fewer options for classes. The amount of variety in classes at a university is a staggering difference to those provided at community colleges.
Course variety can be especially nice when you have no idea what you want to major in – you have the opportunity to explore countless options.
At a university, one could theoretically go through all their core classes without seeing a familiar face, whereas I basically saw the same twenty faces throughout my two years of community college.
But familiar faces don’t necessarily give way to chatting and friendliness in classrooms.
The essence of a community college where everyone can go home after their classes, instead of at universities where most students are stuck with each other in dorm buildings, yields to a less sociable environment.
Not to say that people don’t make friendships at community colleges, but there is less of a forced bonding experience when you aren’t required to live next to the people you go to class with.
That being said, a smaller campus has many advantages. For one, there is a far shorter trek between classes. Where one would have to drive or walk ten minutes to get to their next class at a large university, it’s just a short stroll between classes at a community college.
The instructors at community colleges have been more open and laid back, from my experience.
The smaller class sizes seem to bring a more friendly atmosphere where the instructors can more easily connect with their students.
I’ve never had an instructor lord their degree over the class, as many university professors do. Instead, most prefer to be addressed by their first name.
University professors also don’t seem to be very enthusiastic in their lower-level classes or care as much about teaching them, whereas community college instructors are often only teaching liberal arts courses, their investment in those classes is greater, and most seem to actually enjoy teaching them.
Community colleges also offer a cheaper alternative to starting your college education. Tuition is usually way less than at a university.
Admittedly, university students are paying for more resources and opportunities than community college students are, but the feeling of having less crippling debt is definitely an advantage.
I personally enjoyed two years of significantly less debt than some of my peers, who are already contributing tens of thousands to the national student loan debt.
Universities and community colleges both offer viable options for a college education, and depending on the college experience someone is looking for, one can be more appealing than the other.
As much as the stress that comes with agonizing over whether credits will transfer and the pain of switching schools can be a burden, I thoroughly enjoyed my community college experience and am glad that I started off there.