After reading Anna Gray’s piece on the different values of two-year and four-year programs, I felt compelled to look more into the differences. Most of us have been to the point where we have to decide which type of school we want to go to, and if you haven’t there are a few things you should know.
Two year programs give you a jumping point. You take only classes that prepare you for the job you want, and graduate in a shorter amount of time. Not only this, but two year programs have a variety of fields students can enter. They offer medical fields such as nursing, medical assistant and radiation technology. They also offer business degrees, dental assisting, even engineering.
Two year schools are also a less expensive way to get your general education classes out of the way. If you’re not sure what you want to do, or plan on transferring to a four year school, two year colleges also offer the basic classes, keeping you on track until you’re ready to make the switch.
The drawbacks are that some classes are not transferable. Like Gray ran into, her classes did not cross into her four year program, even though she had graduated. You are also limited on what you can take, even on larger campuses, since they are career-oriented.
Four year colleges and universities offer a wider range of what you can major in. While it’s not always convenient to take those general education classes, they do expand horizons, and are a great way for kids who don’t know what they’re majoring in to find their niche.
However, four year colleges are more pricey, offering financial aid, but depending on how much you and/or your parents made, financial aid and scholarships may not cover what you need it to. Also, their class sizes are often bigger than two year colleges, losing the ability to personalize education and take time in classes.
On top of it all, a degree from a four year school is losing its value. Today, most employers are focusing on what you studied, and how much experience you have, rather than whether or not you’re holding a bachelor’s.
Making the final decision
Finding what education is specifically needed for your field is a great place to start, that way you know how much you’ll have to study and make a decision on which course is better for you. You’ll also want to look into how much field experience is needed to graduate or enter your career. Both a two year and a four year hold value, since both will give you the skillsets needed to succeed in your major.
Do you want to work, or do you want that extra time to take various classes? Do you think you could be covered by scholarships and financial aid or will you have to pay out of pocket? Be sure to compare schools you wish to attend, and don’t be afraid to reach out for help in planning your college experience.
Ultimately, it comes down to which you feel you will excel in, and which will put you in a better place.