Academic quality is not the only important factor to consider in college choices. Finding an atmosphere that will be comfortable goes a long way towards promoting a successful college experience. Here are some of the elements to consider in deciding whether a small college or junior college might be the best choice.

Benefits of College - Small

The benefits of a small college are mostly seen in light of comparison to larger schools.

  • Unlike a very large college, a small college may have an atmosphere that is very much like a community. With a student body size that may be very much like a high school, professors and administrators alike may know a good number of the student body personally. Athletic events and musical performances may draw a large portion of the campus, and parties and other celebrations may do the same. This can have a profound effect on school spirit and the comfort of the campus.
  • Although a small college may offer fewer courses, this may be counterbalanced by small class size and an increase in the attention professors give to individual students. There is less chance that a student will just be a face in the crowd, enrolled in huge lecture courses with little chance for faculty contact.
  • The exclusive focus on undergraduates may also mean that the student spends more time in class with faculty, rather than teaching assistants, working out their graduate teaching fellowships.
  • In addition, focusing on a more narrow vision - only undergraduates, rather than an extended array of graduate programs, for example - may mean that a small college can benefit undergraduates who, in a large research institution, can play second-fiddle to the achievements of professors and advanced graduate students. In a small college, the outstanding undergraduates will be the “big fish” . . .
  • Given the focus of the small college, individually-designed majors may be more of a possibility, as both faculty and advisors have the time and attention to focus on approaches that are off the beaten track.

Benefits of College - Junior

A junior college - or community college, as it may also be known - is a two year college that awards an Associates Degree, but not a bachelor's degree, as is standard in four-year colleges. The benefits of college can be reaped through attendance at a junior college. Here's how:

  • According to a 2006 statistical analysis that polled workers 25 or older, those who had an Associate's Degree earned more each year than those who had some college, but had not attained any degree: $35,270 as compared to $31,790.
  • While tuition and fees for a local junior college student taking a full course load for two semesters might be in the $2000 - $5000 range, tuition and fees at a top four-year college can top $39,000.
  • Junior college can offer a place to repair a high school record that is marred for any reason. Without entering into the high pressure of four-year-college acceptance right out of high school, a student can invest in creating a “new me,” and apply as a transfer student to a four-year institution with a junior college transcript to support his or her qualifications.
  • Some Associates Degrees qualify students for entry-level positions in the field of their choice. For example, an Associates Degree in Nursing (AND) or Accounting prepares the holder for entry-level positions in those fields. This is true in a number of other fields as well. If this is what's desired, then it's a perfect match, and there's no need to look at (and pay for) a four-year college.


US Department of Education: Digest of Education Statistics: “Table 372. Distribution of earnings and median earnings of persons 25 years old and over, by highest level of educational attainment and sex: 2006” -

U.S. News & World Report: National Universities Ranking -

Community College of Vermont -

Oakton Community College  -