What is the Difference Between Community College and Junior College?

You have heard two-year post-secondary schools called by both names, but is there a Difference Between Community College and Junior College? The schools abound in the United States and offer an inexpensive way to meet some educational goals, but how are they different? To answer the question, you first have to understand the history of the junior college system.

Origin of Junior Colleges

These schools have been around for more than 100 years. Originally, they were usually lower divisions of private universities. The original intent of the schools was to catch students who otherwise might not have continued their education beyond high school, and to prepare them to go on to the university. In effect, they taught less successful high school students how to survive the university environment. In that original state, junior colleges do not exist anymore. At some point, they began offering different types of courses and technical education to allow students to succeed without going on to the university as well as preparing them to go on to higher education.

Community Colleges

When that focus changed, so did the name. The schools offered courses that met the needs of the communities where they were located. Most community colleges are funded by taxes. They partner with local businesses and organizations to offer job training that meets employment needs in the area. Some offer tech degrees like automobile maintenance or welding. Many train beauticians or nursing students. The schools offer two-year degrees like Associate of Arts, Associate of Science or Associate of Applied Science and diplomas and certificates that take various amounts of time to earn. Community Colleges still work to prepare students to attend universities, and some even make agreements with the universities to offer automatic admission to students who graduate with the two-year degree. As community-centered organizations, they frequently offer adult education and community education courses like art or computer literacy. Tuition for degree programs can run a third of the cost for a university and, because they have open enrollment, anyone with a high school diploma or its equivalent, may enroll.

Degrees Offered At Community Colleges

Community colleges offer Associate of Science degrees in disciplines like law enforcement or in nursing areas such as the LPN or lab technician programs or medical imaging programs. Associate of Applied Sciences degrees are awarded in fields like hospitality, accounting and the electrical trade that prepare students to immediately enter the workforce. Community Colleges confer Associate of Arts degrees in areas that might be prerequisite for students planning to go on to the university. These areas might include computer science, psychology or other disciplines where a four degree is usually necessary to get employed. The colleges also offer diplomas and certificates for skills that may take from a few weeks to a few months to earn.

If you are thinking about going to a four-year institution, but are worried you might not be ready for university-level studies, going to a community college first might help you gain confidence and learn advanced study skills. If your career needs only a two-year degree, a community college can give you that with a smaller investment than you would make in a university. So basically, other than semantics, there is no Difference Between Community College and Junior College.

You might also like: Is it Faster to Get a College Degree Online Than at a Traditional College?