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What is a Junior College?


When talking about higher education in United States, the name of Junior Colleges often comes up but not many know about them so much. One of the reason is because Junior College is now mostly known as Community College so the term Junior College sounds obsolete. But that’s not the case!

Basically, Junior College offer 2-year degree Programs. These degrees are known as ‘Associate Degrees’ and are different from the traditional 4-year College Programs. Most of the students who wish to take a less expensive education opt for Junior Colleges. Moreover, students who are athletes and want to join Sports at the National level also prefer Junior Colleges after graduating from High School.

Junior Colleges provide an easy access to Post-secondary education to students who are looking for higher education with accessible location, curriculum and finances. Some students who still want to continue their studies after Associate degree can enrol themselves into 4-years program to get their Bachelor Degree.

Origin of Junior Colleges:

Junior Colleges were a popular source of Post-secondary education from the early 1900s to 1960s. People preferred Junior Colleges because it equipped students with vocational education and training. Also, since many people couldn’t afford the 4-years program at a large college or university, Junior Colleges served as the best alternative.

If we delve into the history of Junior Colleges, 2 names come up who brain-child the idea of Junior Colleges; J. Stanley Brown and William Rainey Harper. Both of them introduced Junior Colleges as an extensive arm of High School where students could prepare themselves to join Senior College or University. This type of education and training was supposed to be accessible to all thus the idea of Junior Colleges became quite successful.

Students who attended Junior Colleges were also connected to their communities at various levels thus the skills and training that came along with the education at Junior Colleges helped them to contribute in their communities as well. If you connect the dots, the term ‘Community College’ has a historical perspective to Junior College as well.

Why should you attend a Junior College?

There are many reasons to join a Junior College. First of all, Junior Colleges are an excellent way to acquire quality education in an affordable finance. Although many Junior Colleges are private but there are also some who are exclusively public and they can be a great option for students who want to save their money for their bachelor degree.

Moreover, Junior Colleges are not just a transformative phase for students from High School to College. Instead, nowadays, Junior Colleges offer a variety of options in studies ranging from associate arts and science degrees to associate medical certificates which can be earned in a year or two. There are a lot of programs and certificates which students can choose and earn an associate degree in no time.

Junior Colleges also offer flexible options to students to help them in their pursuit of associate degree. Many Junior College offer online education along with distant education to make it easier for their students. Many Junior Colleges have several campuses in different locations for students to have an easy access to their education without being far away from their home.

Junior Colleges are also a great option for student athletes as well. For Instance, if a student has good athletic performance but not enough academic score to join a college, they can enrol themselves in Junior Colleges because many Junior Colleges offer admission at comparatively very less academic scores. They can either enrol in remote learning or distant learning according to their choice and need. Similarly, if a student has great academic results to join an esteemed Grade 1 college but his athletic scores need an improvement, they can also get into Junior College to improve their tournament scores and prepare themselves for College or University.

Benefits of attending a Junior College:

The most obvious benefit of attending a Junior College is the low cost of education. Junior Colleges costs a lot low than 4-year colleges thus making it a cheaper option for students who have limited financial assets but also want to pursue their higher education.

Secondly, moving from High School to College is not always fancy. Students who have had a tough high school are often sceptical of having same experience at the college level so they don’t feel comfortable enough to get into college and invest a lot of money. For them, Junior College can be a trial phase as it does not require huge financial commitment and students who grow wary of college life can become accustomed to that life during their 2 year stay at a Junior College.

A regular 4-year college class usually contains a bulk of students thus it means students have less interaction with their instructor. Also, in a class with a lot of students, no interaction with your teacher can also affect your studies. On the contrary, Junior Colleges have small attendance in their classes. The number of students is usually average or below average. Every student has ample opportunities to interact personally with their course instructors and solve their queries. This can also have a positive impact on their academic performance.

Many Junior Colleges also offer the option of Credit Transfer. Students can transfer their credits from basic introductory courses to their 4-year college program if they continue their studies after Junior College. This can help students land their feet on complex subjects even before they join their Bachelor degree programs.

Junior Colleges have an easier Acceptance Policy than 4-year Colleges. Usually, if a student has shown satisfactory results throughout their high school, they can be easily accepted into Junior College. Whereas, regular colleges have a lot of Pre-enrolment requirements which should be met before a student can join a 4-year program. These may include advanced SAT scores, admission tests, interviews.

Difference between Junior College and Community College:

There is not a lot of difference between Junior College and a Community College. Like explained earlier, the former is now usually replaced by the latter in terms of name. However, there can be only one thing that differentiates Junior College from a Community College. Junior Colleges are usually private institutions as they identify themselves as such whereas Community Colleges are largely Public thus more affordable and tuition free.

That does not mean that Junior Colleges are expensive but they usually require a certain tuition fee which can also be covered by applying for different scholarships at the Junior College level.


In a nutshell, Junior Colleges are a street smart way to access quality education without putting in a lot of money. Junior Colleges are a good option for students who are good in their studies as well as their sports. Junior Colleges can act as a ladder to join a 4-year program if a student aspires to continue their higher education. But Junior Colleges themselves are fully fledged institutions who equip students with necessary skills and traits before even joining a regular College. So, if you’re looking for an early bird education and practical skills, Junior College should be your definite choice. Good Luck!

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