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Deciding on whether to attend a junior college or a university can be a very tough decision. Oftentimes we hear negative opinions and comments about attending a junior college instead of a university. Junior colleges are much more affordable, they have smaller classes, and they are much more convenient than universities. Through my experiences and research, I feel there are many benefits to attending a junior college.
The most important benefit to attending a junior college is the financial savings. The present tuition at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College is $75 per semester hour. A student at the University of Southern Mississippi will pay $172 per semester hour. That is a difference of nearly $100 dollars per semester hour. I have seen friends pay thousands of dollars to attend a university, and after a year they were no closer to a degree than a junior college student. They were just further in debt.
Another benefit to attending a junior college is the smaller class sizes. The classes at a junior college are held in classrooms, not huge lecture halls. I feel that a student can get more out a class lecture when there are fewer students in the class. It is easier for a student to ask questions when the class size is 30 students versus the 100 students in a university class. In a smaller class, the instructor will have more time for one-on-one meetings and discussions. This in itself can give junior college students an advantage over university students.
Junior colleges are known for giving nontraditional students many convenient ways to obtain a career. Married students, students with children, or even students that work full time, may not have the time or the finances to complete a 4 year program. Not every job requires a 4 year degree, so why waste the time and money? Junior colleges offer certificates and associate's degrees in various fields. The certificate programs are designed to prepare a student for an entry-level job upon completion of the program. Students may decide to take only a couple of semesters to get a certificate in a certain field such as nursing, welding, or surgical technology.
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