Students graduating high school have many choices for seeking a college degree. They can go to a traditional four-year university to earn a bachelor’s degree; start at a community college and then transfer to a four-year university; get a two-year associate’s degree; seek vocational training or take courses entirely online. Only students and their families can know the best fit for their situation.
However, some students dismiss the idea of attending a four-year university right out of the gate, assuming it will be more expensive (more on that later). But there is a huge list of other factors to consider when choosing a college. Here are five reasons four-year universities make the most sense:
Relationships lead to jobs
Spending four years on the same campus allows students to create lasting relationships, not only with fellow students who will become friends for a lifetime, but also with faculty members who have a genuine interest in their success. The network of peers, teachers, mentors and contacts a student makes over four years can be a vital resource when it’s time to enter the workforce. Many students at four-year universities have jobs lined up before they even graduate.
Campus life is calling
Although the most important reason to attend college is to earn a degree, there are so many other benefits to establishing one’s independence at a four-year university. Students get the opportunity to make their mark on campus through leadership roles or student activities. They are able to explore their identity and find their own voice in the world in a supportive environment. Establishing independence takes time, and that’s facilitated by living, working and studying in the same place for four years.
Academic options expand horizons
The courses at four-year universities are more varied in their topics, making it easy for students to explore new fields and ideas. A major portion of students’ required credits can be electives, meaning they get to choose from a vast array of course offerings outside of their majors. Classes at four-year universities tend to be more rigorous, and many of them include the opportunity for hands-on learning. Plus, many professional jobs require a bachelor’s degree rather than an associate’s degree.
The right fit is out there
Because there are hundreds of options for four-year colleges across the U.S., students get a chance to find the right one for their priorities, preferences and desired location. Students who want to live on campus but don’t want to be too far away from their family can find a college within that radius that offers their major program. Those who seek a college that is highly diverse or that puts a premium on public service or that offers alternative grading schemes can also find their match.
The price is negotiable
Many public four-year universities offer scholarships to freshmen that can be rolled over year to year as long as students earn a minimum GPA and enroll in 12 credits. Also, some universities (like WOU) will supplement the financial aid a student receives until tuition and fees are covered entirely. Four-year universities generally offer dozens of scholarships to help students pay for college, with award amounts ranging from $1,000 to full tuition, fees, books and housing (full ride).