What Universities Won't Tell You


Going to a university has, for many, become a dream. And why not? The shiny brochures tell you all about the experience you’ll gain, the things you’ll learn and the fun you’ll have. But there are a few key things they don’t tell you. For instance...

Your class won’t always be taught by people with advanced degrees.
Sometimes you’ll have a graduate teaching assistant who may have just finished undergraduate work. By the time you’re a senior, some TAs may only be a year older than you. In fact, some major universities have just as many TAs as full-time faculty. And when you do get a class with that world-class professor, he probably won’t be reading or grading your work. Again, cue the TAs.

By contrast, all classes at community colleges like Southwestern Michigan College are taught by people with advanced degrees, not TAs.

You are not a priority.
Faculty are under a ton of pressure to publish research. In fact, its not uncommon for them to be required to devote only 40% or less of their time to teaching. That’s why they rely so heavily on TAs for teaching and grading.

You won’t find this at a community college. One hundred percent of instructor’s time is devoted to teaching.

You’ll be their guinea pig.
Research universities have to—get this—research, and where do you think they get all their subjects? That’s right, it’s y-o-u. No, they aren’t going to be testing wacky medical advancements on you, but you’ll mostly likely be graded on your participation in research. Some community colleges are doing some great research, but participation is generally voluntary.

You’re wasting your money.
Those pre-reqs and electives? You can take the EXACT same classes at a community college for 1/3 the cost. Plus, at a community college, the focus is on skills training so you’ll spend less time learning not-quite-relevant theories and more time gaining skills that will help you on the job.

Now, these things aren’t all deal breakers. Universities do provide a lot of opportunities, and in more focused classes, you will get to work closely with world-renown faculty. But this just goes to show some real ways that the education you’ll receive at a community college is sometimes much better than what you’ll get from a university.

So before you commit thousands of dollars to a university, be sure to check out your local community college. And while you’re at it, give Southwestern Michigan College a look too.