A junior college, often referred to as a community college, typically has accredited programs that offer one- or two-year degrees in addition to specific training programs. Two-year degrees are most frequently called associate's degrees. Most regular colleges offer four-year degrees, known as bachelor's degrees, and some have advanced programs that offer master's and doctorate degree programs. Even though there are differences between junior and regular colleges, both have courses that help students obtain academic credentials necessary to meet specific career requirements.
Junior colleges and four-year colleges have prerequisites for admission. Both require applicants to have a high school diploma or a GED before they can begin taking classes. Depending on the college or university, application essays, ACT or SAT scores, grade point averages, class rank and letters of recommendation might also be required. Four-year colleges are generally considered to have more competitive application requirements, but health science programs tend to be highly selective at both junior and regular colleges, according to Education.com. (Reference 1)
Both colleges have traditional students in the 18 to 22 age bracket who started college immediately after high school. In-state, out-of-state and international students attend junior and four-year colleges, and many enroll in full-time programs. However, junior colleges tend to have a larger percentage of non-traditional students who are older and are entering college for the first time or are returning to school. Most students at community colleges are in-state residents and attend part-time, reports Education.com. (Reference 1)
Continuing Education and Workforce Training Programs
Some four-year universities and almost all junior colleges offer continuing education and workforce training programs. These programs provide training for students who are in particular career fields, such as nursing or technical fields of study. Per Education.com, junior colleges are more likely to offer vocational training programs that lead to direct entry in the workforce. (Reference 1) Some continuing education programs help professionals and college graduates maintain requirements necessary to update their skills and uphold current credentials in a particular field, such as K-12 continuing education classes for teachers.
Junior colleges and four-year institutions have transferable credits, according to TG, a public nonprofit corporation in Texas that helps students and their families plan and prepare for college. (Reference 2) Some students start their post-secondary education at a community college, often due to lower tuition costs, and finish at a four-year university. Unless the four-year college is highly competitive and requires advanced coursework, credits from a junior college usually transfer. Four-year university admissions counselors might double-check junior college curriculum guidelines and textbooks before transferring credits. There is usually no problem transferring credits from a four-year college to a junior college, as long as the courses are similar.
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