Community Colleges vs. Major Universities

  1. Hi Everyone,
    I was hoping I could get some opinions on nursing school. I am attending a major university (Penn State) and so far I have racked up over 10,000.00 dollars in student loans. It takes me about 10 to 15 minutes to get to school from my house. There is a community college about 45 minutes away that also offers the associate degree in nursing. I am really confused. My university tells us that when we are going through the hiring process, that our degree will look better and we will be hired before the community college graduates. I wouldnt expect them to tell us any different. However, I dont know that I really believe that! The community college does their clinicals in the same area hospitals as Penn State does. Is there any one out there who is knowledgeable about the hiring process that nurses go through that can help? Is it true that someone who has the same degree from a major university vs. a community college will be hired first? I am trying to decide if I am willing to rack up more debt...is it really worth it? Please give your honest opinions...I really appreciate your help!
    Thanks!
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  2. 20 Comments

  3. by   Spidey's mom
    Hi - my advice . . . if you are unmarried and childless, go for the Bachelor's Degree.

    I've counseled two recent high school graduates to go to a university instead of community college.

    I drove 70 miles one way to a community college starting when I was 38 when I went back to college to become an RN. The university was 3 hours away. And I had 3 kids and a husband too.

    steph
  4. by   nursein08
    Which campus do you attend? The only reason I ask is because I go to HACC in Gettysburg, but I live closer to the Mont Alto campus. When I was deciding which school to go to, I chose HACC because all of the nurses that I know said it was one of the best and toughest programs around. We do share the same places for clinicals and we often get wonderful comments about how good our program is and how difficult it is. Since the degrees are the same, if you want to save some money on tuition, go the CC route. I don't see any difference in hiring. All of the people that graduated from December's class were hired right away, a lot into specialty areas. I just got an externship that people from the university were up for also. This unit only accepted 3 people, and 2 of the people that got it were from the CC. One was me and the other was a girl from my class. In this area, I don't think the name on the degree matters. Like you said, they wouldn't want to tell you any differently...they might lose a lot of money!
  5. by   HealthyRN
    If you go to Penn State versus a community college and earn a BSN, you will have many more opportunities in the future. There may be no difference in the hiring process for an entry-level position, but it will affect jobs that you may want in the future. Also, if you decide that you want to continue your education in nursing, you will not have to go back and earn a BSN first. If you decide that you don't like nursing and want out, a bachelor's degree will help you find jobs or pursue education outside of nursing. Penn State has a great reputation and I would definately go for it. It may seem like a lot of debt now, but it is worth it in the long run.
  6. by   WDWpixieRN
    I agree with stevielynn....if you are young, unmarried and have no past student loan debt, I'd go for the BSN; you won't regret it and it's something no one can ever take from you....then if you decide you want a MSN or beyond later, you'll have an excellent foundation to work from.

    I am attending a CC, but have a previous bachelor's in business (which I am still paying for), am 50+, and just wanted to just get through school quickly. I will work on a BSN once I am employed.
  7. by   Clarise
    I would go the community college route. It is much cheaper and quicker to get an ASN. I have instructors who teach at my community college but whom also teach at a university. So I am getting the same type of instructor as a BSN student for a loss less $. Once you are an RN, you can continue on to get your BSN while the hospital you are working at pays for it. Just make sure you find a job that has tuition reimbursement.
  8. by   Spidey's mom
    Quote from KatRN,BSN
    If you go to Penn State versus a community college and earn a BSN, you will have many more opportunities in the future. There may be no difference in the hiring process for an entry-level position, but it will affect jobs that you may want in the future. Also, if you decide that you want to continue your education in nursing, you will not have to go back and earn a BSN first. If you decide that you don't like nursing and want out, a bachelor's degree will help you find jobs or pursue education outside of nursing. Penn State has a great reputation and I would definately go for it. It may seem like a lot of debt now, but it is worth it in the long run.

    This is great advice. It can be harder to go back to school later for your BSN - you are already there, go for it. I majored in Social Work the first time around when I was young, unencumbered, etc. Then returned to school later and it was definitely a challenge to be here for my family and go to school. It is tough on a marriage.

    Plus, as mentioned, your options are much wider with a BSN.

    steph
  9. by   HeartsOpenWide
    If I was in your situation (fortunately I have money set aside for school) I would go to the community college. You can always return to the UC to get your BSN (but you will have spent a lot less money for the first two years of your nursing education at the JC) I think that your school is just telling you some ploy to get you to stay. My college does the same thing, but nurses from my UC and the JC both get hired. In fact, rumor use to be that hospitals rather higher nurses from the JC because they had more hands on experience out the door than my college (but now the rumor is that they are turning out lesser quality nurses since they changed from merit to lotto) but they could all be rumors. I think that there are enough jobs out there that you will not have to worry. Besides, like I suggested, you can go back and finish the last part at the JC after you save tons of money doing the first two at the JC. It takes a little longer, but you will have less to pay back, PLUS you will be an actual RN quicker and can work as an RN while your bridge (in my area ASN=2 years till NCLEX and BSN=2 1/2 years till NCLEX and 3 years until degree )

    Of course this is just what I would do. You have to choice what is best for you
  10. by   CityKat
    There are pluses to each. The ASN is shorter and cost effective presently, but in the long run if you want to get your masters and become a CRNA, a mid wife or an NP, you have to go back to school for that additional year to receive your BSN and you might end up paying a little more than what you would if you just went on through with the BSN. If you take the BSN route, your options are far greater and in the long run, will save you time. You can just go right into the masters versus going back to school for that one year and then into the masters. I toggled with both of them before saying I am doing the BSN route, simply because it will end up being shorter in the long run for me. Ahhh, school debt!! I know about school debt. I have much more than you do built up and there are days when I'm like..maybe a business degree? Jk. You know what I'm getting at. No worries, I can pay it off faster once I am an advanced practice nurse!!
  11. by   queenjean
    I vote associates (of course, that's because that is what I am doing). In my area (the midwest) there is no disadvantage in hiring. My state board of nursing has a breakdown of the first time board pass rate for all the state nursing programs; the best ones are some of the community colleges who consistently have greater than 90%. All the four-year programs are around 80, and then there are some community colleges that are lower.

    I would also note that most of the Associates to Bachelors programs are now on-line. My local university even has an Associates to Masters program, mostly online except, of course, for your Masters clinicals.

    I already have a bachelors in another field, and therefore I didn't qualify for any type of financial aid other than student loans. For me, the associates was cheaper and faster. Also, my community college clusters classes--all theory classes are one day, then two days of clinicals. Both university programs that I was accepted into had classes scattered all day every day. Basically I would have had to be on campus all day from 8-5, with big breaks inbetween classes. I have elementary school kids at home, and I have to work (I carry our insurance through my job), so the idea of having so much downtime was unappealing to me.

    THere are advantages and disadvantages to both; but they are negligible. You will probably be happy with whichever you choose. Ultimately you are choosing between two good options. Monetarily, though, I hate to be in debt, and that certainly factored into my decision on where to attend; I am paying cash for my degree. I have tuition reimbursement (up to 1500 a year) through my employer--that covers almost all of it--and then the rest of the stuff I just pay for out of pocket. It's nice not to have to have any student loans, or continue to rack up that debt. It's hard to start out with tens of thousands of dollars of debt!!!!!
  12. by   lilredbedhed
    Thanks to all of you for your opinions. I want to clarify that the program I am in at Penn State is also an ADN, the same as offered at cc. I love the fact that I am so close to my school now, but I guess if I really want to be an RN I wont mind travelling that extra 1/2 hour to 45 minutes each way...I will be 40 yo in May. I also am married with two children at home. My oldest son will graduate high school this year and I will probably have more loans racking up soon.
    My husband is verbally supportive but picks and chooses whether he will help around the house. I think it is a control issue! Anyway, being a nurse is something I have dreamed about since I was a child and I am proud of myself for finally going for it. Thanks again to all of you!
    Last edit by lilredbedhed on Apr 11, '07 : Reason: to add something
  13. by   stanquim
    Associates, 90% of the people I work witih have an associates. BSN really isn't taken into consideration when hiring people. A lot of community colleges take pride in their nursing programs and their great. I'm a 21 y/o male. Wiping butt and taking care of patients at harvard is the same at a community college. Just 43,00 dollars cheaper. Now, you want to continue school, you get done with your associates, work at the hospital, have them pay for it and get your BSN in a year, and your off, so you will be working sooner at a community college and you will get your schooling done in the same amount of time. Community college is the greatest thing because you pay like 5 G's or less for being there 3 or 4 years. Cheers to community college
  14. by   smk1
    Penn State has a great reputation nationwide, so you actually might have an advantage during hiring. My community college has a great reputation and is one of the top 25 nursing schools nationwide (BSN or ASN) and I have heard that our graduates get hiring preference over many other area programs BSN or not. I would imagine Penn state grads would be sought after. Try to get as many scholarships as possible and find ways to keep your costs down and get the BSN. If you could due you prereqs at a CC then do the 2 years of RN education at Penn state you could save some money and still have the benefits of a BSN from a great school.
    Last edit by smk1 on Apr 12, '07 : Reason: ...

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