During my transfer path on the road to graduation, I’ve experienced practically every type of college experience. From classroom set-up (in-person, virtual, or a mixture of the two), housing, enrollment and campus size, to religious affiliation, I’ve experienced them all. Read on to learn more about my experiences with each, and which were my favorite!
Traditional Vs. Online Vs. Hybrid
Traditional Classes: Traditional college classes are held in-person and are a great way to begin your college education because meeting on-campus offers more support than online courses often do.
Hybrid Classes: Hybrid classes are a mix between online and in-person meetings. I liked that these classes not only had the flexibility of online classes, but also the accountability that in-person classes have (and online classes sometimes lack).
Online Classes: Of the three types of classroom set-ups, online obviously offers the most flexibility because all of the classes are held completely online. For more about my online classes, you can read why I love my online program.
Analysis: Personally, online and hybrid classes were my favorite. Online courses provide a lot of flexibility, and hybrid classes allowed for some in-person interaction while still being flexible.
2-Year Vs. 4-Year
2-Year Colleges: A two-year college awards associates degrees to its students rather than bachelor’s degrees. Even though I really enjoyed my time at my two-year college and graduated with an associates degree, to continue my education I had to transfer colleges (which is a pain). That being said, there are many perks to associates degrees and two-year colleges.
4-Year Colleges: Most colleges you think of are four-year colleges that grant bachelor’s degrees to students. This is the more traditional college experience that most people envision. If you transfer into a four-year college, you can take advantage of a lot of the same resources available to non-transfer students.
Analysis: Ideally, I would have enrolled in a four-year college that I loved right out of high school (and I would have graduated college in 2016), but since I had to transfer, going to a two-year college to start my higher education was beneficial and I don’t regret that part of my college education.
Residence Hall Vs. Commuter
Residence Hall: Living on-campus allows students to fully immerse themselves in campus life. I enjoyed the social aspect of living on-campus, but it was a bit challenging to find time alone to be productive.
Commuter: Students can save a lot of money by commuting to campus (and benefit from home-cooked meals if they’re living at home), but they might miss out on part of the college experience.
Analysis: I preferred commuting to campus because I enjoyed my time spent on-campus, but I appreciated being able to leave and go home at the end of the day to get my work done.
Large Vs. Small
Large Colleges: Big colleges offer some perks that only large universities can offer (such as study abroad programs or large alumni networks), but students can feel like a number.
Small Colleges: Small institutions are much more personalized and it can be a lot easier to have your questions answered (both in and out of the classroom) than at a big college.
Analysis: I like small, close-knit colleges over big universities because even though they may not advertise the prestigious benefits of a big college, I found the connections I made at a small college to be more meaningful than the connections I made at larger colleges.
Private Vs. Public/State
Private Colleges: Private institutions are often relatively small and diverse, but have a higher price tag than public colleges. Luckily, private colleges often award nice scholarships, which made the private college I enrolled at competitively priced.
Public Colleges: Public institutions tend to be large, and cheaper for in-state residents (and made up primarily of people that live in the state for that reason). Even though the public institution I enrolled at only gave me a small scholarship, the tuition was still reasonable (as reasonable as tuition prices are these days).
Analysis: Unless you’re offered a sustancial scholarship to a private institution, it probably doesn’t make sense to commit to that price tag for four years (instead, consider attending a community or two-year college first, and then transfer into a private college). That being said, more affordable public institutions may limit your personal interactions on campus. If you’re set on attending a private college, consider these tips to afford your dream college, and this rule of thumb for student loans.
Religious Affiliation Vs. No Affiliation
Religious Affiliation: Colleges with a religious affiliation offer students optional prayer services, relaxation events, worship opportunities, etc., but usually don’t force you to participate in any spiritual activities if you aren’t a religious person.
No Affiliation: Without a religious affiliation, there may be fewer relaxation and spiritual retreats. If you aren’t a religious person, you probably won’t mind the lack of these activities.
Analysis: Regardless of whether or not an institution has a religious affiliation, you probably won’t be forced to participate in any religious activities. However, if you’re a religious person and would benefit from optional prayer services, etc., I’d encourage you to search for a religiously-affiliated college.
Overall, online and hybrid class styles are my favorite, and even though transferring is a hassle, I’m still glad I enrolled at my two-year college. I prefer commuting to campus (if I have classes on-campus), and small, private colleges give me the personal attention that I thrive on.
I hope this post helps you better understand the different types of colleges and what each can offer you as a student. Please comment below if you have any questions for me about my experiences at any of these types of institutions.
– Sarah C.