Junior College or a Four-Year University: Which is the Better Route?

The decision between transferring from a Junior College and landing straight into a university has remained a puzzle for students however, the faculty and graduates of Downey High express their opinion on which route is best.Five out of the six Downey administrators completed their first two years at a community college, followed with a transfer to a university. Tom Houts, principal of Downey High School, is one of the administrators who took the Junior College route, not having any regrets for the choice he made, but also recognizing that each student differs in their situation and career plan. "If you want to be a teacher, you don't go to Harvard or USC and pay $200,000," he said. "You go to Cal State Long Beach, Cal State Fullerton, and pay $20,000. It really depends on what you want to do. Four-years are a lot of money and I just hate to see people go into a four-year, spending a lot of their parents' money when they don't know exactly what they want to do." What perhaps makes the Junior Colleges so attractive is not only the amount of money a student saves on an education equal to that of the first two years at a university, but also on the smoothing of transition from teenager to adult. A student may bide their time transitioning into a mature adult while saving money and having no disadvantage through their curriculum. "The two years you do at a community college are just as challenging if you did them at Cerritos or if you did them at UCLA; otherwise UCLA wouldn't take them," said Downey High counselor, Linda Riggs, who also received her general education at a Junior College. Though the general education might not differ between a transfer student and a student who ventured straight into a university, the difference between the two types of institutions, even in their first two years, is imminent. "The difference is where you're going to fit in, where you're going to meet people of similar ideas as you, and I think that intellectual curiosity is going to be more met on a more competitive campus," said Bernie Glasser, Downey High teacher and UCLA graduate. "So when you're surrounded by a bunch of kids who are very bright and driven, I think the chances for you to be driven and challenged are greater, and I think there are less of those at a JC than at a UCLA or Berkeley. Now, there are many people at a JC who are very serious and want to go on and do great things. I just don't think there are just as many percentage-wise. It is very dependent on you as an individual." Not only may the environments between the two institutions differ, but contrary to belief, transferring might very well bring more stress on a student. Rather than being the easy road taken, there are certain dates to be met, specific documents to be completed and delivered, and a definite amount of credentials to be met before a student can be allowed to transfer. "At a university, you can just stay there for four years and you don't have to worry about transferring and everything; so for right now, since I am at Cerritos, I have to worry about that and about getting all my credits and seeing what is transferable to a university," said Myra Salina, 2009 graduate of Downey High and current freshmen at Cerritos College. "I regret not going straight into a four-year. I think anybody can find a way by getting a loan or scholarship." The transfer system might be preferred or seen as the simpler route by those in certain situations; however, both institutions contain their own benefits, as well as disadvantages. It can be discerned that the route a student partakes in their education can only be chosen by that particular student to best match their unique situation.

********** Published: September 18, 2009 - Volume 8 - Issue 22

NewsEric Pierce