So you might be wondering: Is There a Difference between Junior College and Community College?
If you’ve ever heard the term “junior college” the context has probably been such that it was used in place of the term “community college”.
These days the two terms are often taken to mean the same thing, just as “college” and “university” are generally considered to be interchangeable terms for the same type of schooling, at least in the United States.
Interestingly, it was a desire to depart from the typical European model of schooling (which split students into trade schools, colleges, and universities depending on their socioeconomic status) that led to the development of junior colleges in the first place.
America was not dubbed the land of opportunity for nothing, and it was in an effort to make higher education more accessible to all (rather than just the privileged elite) that the junior college system was born more than half a century ago.
What Are Junior Colleges?
In their inception, junior colleges were intended solely as preparatory institutions.
Their goal was to take high school graduates that might not otherwise go on to college and prepare them locally for the move to a larger university.
And in the beginning, these institutions were dependent largely on the support of state schools to accept their students (in other words, they weren’t exactly accredited community colleges in the same way as their 4-year brethren).
But eventually the idea caught on and began to spread.
And as the network of junior colleges grew in the United States, so too did the scope of their influence.
Soon they began to change how the operated, what services they offered, and whom they offered them to.
This was the birth of the community college system…
Difference Between Community College And Junior College Today
So how do the two schools differ today?
Although 2 year community colleges sprang from the junior college system, these schools in their original form really don’t exist anymore.
Community colleges may still be called junior colleges, but that is something of a misnomer.
Although community college programs do indeed offer coursework that will allow underprivileged high-school graduates the opportunity to go on to a 4-year degree program where they may otherwise have been unable to, the system has branched out significantly.
Community colleges are so called because they cater to the community at large.
Kids straight out of high school may still make up the majority of the student body, but there are also adults that have been in the workforce, parents that have spent the last several years raising kids, and even retirees seeking new challenges or perhaps working to attain a degree now that they have the time and money to do so.
In short, anyone can attend community college.
But the other main difference is that not all students at community colleges view the experience solely as a gateway to a 4-year college or university.
Some will use their time at community college to learn a trade (like nursing) and work towards certification or licensure.
Others will go for online Ecommerce degrees.
And there are some who are simply looking to attain an associate’s degree, without any plans to continue their community college education beyond that point.
So while the junior college platform is certainly responsible for the birth of community colleges as we know them today, the two are not necessarily the same, and the former is generally considered the product of a bygone era.