There are many different types of higher education options available to students. Two of the most known degree types would be a two-year degree and a four-year degree. Both are great achievements, but they are different in many ways. A 2-year degree, also known as an associate degree, is given after completing two years of college at a community college/junior college. There is a plethora of majors in which you can get your degree in. A 4-year degree is very similar, but it is given after completing four years of college at a senior college/university.
Now that you know the definition of a 2-year degree vs a 4-year degree, let’s dive in to the pros and cons of each.
Less Time Required
- You can complete and receive a degree in a shorter amount of time.
- This may be a great option for people that want to go to college, but don’t think they will be able to commit a full four years to gain a degree.
- Sometimes going to school full-time is just not possible. Work, family-life, and other obligations are just too important to take time off. While nearly every college offers a part-time option, 2-year schools in particular are often the easiest to work with for part-time students. They can provide a level of flexibility (night classes, online classes, etc.) that might better suit a complicate, busy schedule.
- It’s More Affordable
- Community college and junior colleges are much more affordable per credit and per year than four-year schools. 2-year programs can be an amazing way to save on college costs while still working towards a degree.
- Many community colleges and junior colleges have general education or prerequisite classes similar to those found in 4-year programs. Since in your first two years of a 4-year degree, you will be completing a lot of general requirements anyway, you can save a lot of money by completing them at a community college and then transfer the credits to a 4-year college. Keep in mind, this isn’t always a 100% surefire way to save money, because some credits may not be accepted. Check out your local community colleges and 4-year schools to make sure.
- Stay at Home
- If you’re concerned about living too far away from home, local community colleges are a great option. Since most community colleges don’t have traditional dorm rooms or on-campus living, your fellow peers at school will likely be in the same boat, i.e. commuting from home to school. This might make it easier to find common interests and new friends, while living at home and attending school.
- Job Requirements
- Many jobs now require a bachelor’s degree, not just an associate’s degree. Research the job field you want to enter into and make sure you understand the typical educational requirements.
- Doesn’t Offer All Majors
- Even though there are a ton of majors offered by community colleges, there usually aren’t as many as you would find in a 4-year college. Be sure to look at the college’s list of majors to see if your desired major is included.
- Fewer Resources
- 2-year schools do amazing work, but they often have less funding and fewer resources than their 4-year counterparts. This means less “extra” services like career counseling, internship help, few clubs and activities, and less elaborate classroom resources (labs, computer rooms, smart rooms, etc.)
- Not a Traditional “College Feel”
- Some students opt out of staying home and going to a community college simply because they want the “college experience.” Usually, this can’t be 100% replicated at a community college since you probably won’t be living in dorms or on campus.
- The Traditional “College Experience”
- If you want to feel the collegiate experience, like dorm life, you can most frequently find that at a 4-year school.
- Living away from home, often for the first time, can also be a huge and important step. If you want that type of an experience, usually 4-year schools, assuming you’re not commuting, offer a student-centric experience involving clubs, dorm rooms, college parties, etc. that 2-year schools simply don’t have.
- More Classes & Resources
- 4-year colleges usually have more funding at their disposal. This naturally means more resources They are able to provide a more diverse number of classes and majors, more sections, higher-level courses, etc.
- 4-year schools also have the advantage of additional “extra” resources, such as more advising staff, career placement counselors, health services, etc.
- Job Opportunities
- Having a bachelor’s degree often provides access to more job opportunities than an associate degree. This can be entirely dependent on your career path, but a bachelor’s degree can often open the door to higher paying job opportunities and promotions.
- The Cost
- 4-year colleges and universities are known for having insanely high price tags, but they also are known for having many more scholarship opportunities. Make sure to do your homework and see if it’s affordable for you.
- A Lot of Requirements to Get a Degree
- This is a very important point that really drives home the difference between associate and bachelor’s degrees. When you are enrolled in a 4-year college or university, you will only graduate if you complete all the credits required. There is no partial degree option. This generally takes most people about 4 - 5 years. If you decide to drop out or leave the university for any reason, you do not get a degree (and you may still have college loans to pay back).
Both options are great, but it’s important to really consider which would be best fit for your needs.