Navigating Differences in College Culture: Community Colleges vs Four-Year Universities

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  7
Wordcount:  1703 Words
Date:  2022-12-29


Within every community colleges and four-year universities, the issue concerning difference is college cultures is common and evident as a result of various occurrences. In different happenings, the difference in terms of college culture among community colleges and four-year universities occurs in ways that involve the setting and structure of the particular community. For instance, community colleges closely reflect their locations since community colleges are more apparent and over their own culture. The culture difference is in such a manner that students may involve in practice different from other colleges. In traditional college-aged students, they tend to spend most of the time on the campus; however, students at suburban colleges tend to go to school, do what they have to do, and then leave. On the other hand, college culture different between community colleges and four-year universities in that the student population at community colleges can be more diverse and getting involved may require more effort at a community college.

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However, as a result of the difference in culture in college, this occurrence raises the need for the study concerning how college culture differs between community colleges and four-year universities which is the research question. It is fundamental to study the difference in college culture since it provides various sociological explanations concerning college students. Over the past decades, there have been multiple involvements of learning within the community colleges particularly with the diverse student population. In one way or the other, according to Giarrusso (2013), students tend to involve in numerous practices such as extra curriculum activities, employment, among other action defined by cultures. Additionally, it is critical to study this topic since it will assist in providing a clear view concerning the inclination of students to specific practices and the change in culture, behaviors, among other social occurrences.


In every study, the research design represents a set of methods and procedures utilized in the collection and analysis of the variables specified in the research question or problem. In this case, since the research problem revolves around understanding how college culture differs between community colleges and four-year universities, the research design will be based on the qualitative study while the method will encompass students. Moreover, within the research design, picking the reliable and relevant location for observation is critical and a sample for interviews. I considered the range of the community colleges and considered the observation in the cafeteria at Parkside and Gateway as the sample will include the students in every year of the four-year programs. I choose to conduct qualitative research on students in the cafeteria at Gateway and Parkside since they are reliable and the information will be first hand without any bias thus validity.

Qualitative research designs or methods are utilized to uncover trends in opinions and thoughts, as well as to dive deeper into a problem. Through the qualitative data collection and research, some of the most common methods revolve around focusing on group discussion, individual interviews and observations or participation. In the detail of this study, the involvement and observations took place in the form of group discussions and personal interviews. Through the process of various interviews and reviews, I was a participant observer as the subject involved and worked through the study in diving deeper into the research question. Furthermore, I chose to observe and not actively participate in the discussions since I wanted to understand the various ways through which culture differs in community colleges. For example, in the study as the 6 participants involved in the group discussion, I observed and collected the necessary information in a quest to answer the research question. Also, I did not conduct interviews and ensured that the participants interviewed each other since I need unbiased, exclusive, and reliable information.


Community colleges are developed in a given setup meant to play a critical function in the process of upward mobility especially in the sociology context. Despite the open-door accessibility in the community colleges, the students have to act and play according to the cultural structures of the involved community and the location within which the instituting is placed. According to the sociological theories, the nature of community defines the structure of practices, particularly among students. Through the utilization of a sample of 6 participants in the study, the group discussion provided that college culture differs between community colleges and four-year universities in ways such as diversity and social needs. Derived through the independent variable which is the community colleges and the dependent variable involving the college cultures, the research was able to obtain that based on the form of culture within the community and colleges, they determine the nature of college culture the students involved in. According to the 6 participants, 5 of them felt that sociology was behind the explanation behind the difference in college culture among community colleges while one of the participants felt that sociological theories didn't play a larger equation to the account since community colleges are likely to comprise of individuals within a particular community.


In a society that is culturally and socially diverse, the community colleges are positioned to ideal develop the social and intercultural competencies in the students as well as the environment they interact. Riley, Bustamante, and Edmonson (2016), conducted a mixed method study focusing on the relationship between student engagement through the Community College Survey of Student Engagement and the social and intercultural competencies as investigated by the intercultural development inventory. Through the study, Riley, Bustamante, and Edmonson (2016) derived that college cultures differ according to the community college and their perceptions of intercultural competencies. Also, they acquired the significant of collaborative classroom activities to ensure ethical and social diversity as the different community colleges and four-year universities. In as much as Riley, Bustamante, and Edmonson (2016) manage to provide significant information concerning the community colleges and perception of intercultural competence; the major weakness revolves around the in the ability of the study to answer questions concerning social roles in colleges and community relations.

On the other hand, Tibbetts, Priniski, Hecht, Borman, and Harackiewicz (2018), conducted a study regarding the different institutions and different values by exploring the first-generation student at the two-year colleges. According to the survey, first-generation college students (individuals whom neither parent has a four-year degree) contend with the belonging happenings as a result of the perceived mismatch between their values and the values of the community colleges. Additionally, in the study, Tibbetts et al. (2018) examine the cultural mismatch theory. The cultural mismatch theory ascertains that cultural inequality or difference occurs when the cultural norms in the mainstream institutions refuse to match with the norms prevalent amongst social groups underrepresented in the given institutions. Through the derived from the study, it relates to this study concerning how college culture differs between community colleges and four-year universities by elaborating that cultural mismatch could render the differences in the community colleges. However, in the study, Tibbetts et al. (2018) fail to deliver the various ways through which college culture differs between community colleges.

According to the study, social differences could provide a significant explanation to the occurrences in college cultures different across community colleges. Stevens (2008), reveals that the involvement between education and culture form a substantial aspect in the sociology theories. The sociology theories explain that culture and education derive various participation in society since both occurrences are based on each other. For instance, college culture varies in different community colleges as a result of the multiple forms of practices along with the sociologist conception created concerning many traditions in the community. Thus, such occurrence imposes an underlying impact on the phenomenon elaboration on how college culture differs. According to functionalists, they believe education equips individuals to perform various functional roles in society while the conflict theorists view education as a method of widening the social inequality gap. Emile Durkheim, a French sociologist, derives that socialization involves learning the norms and rules of the society while schools or institutions serve as socialization agencies. In the past of compulsory learning and education, students acquired knowledge and learned the dominant culture; however, today, since the culture is much diversified, students may gain understanding concerning cultural norms and not only that of the dominant culture. Similarly, it applies in this case whereby college cultures in one way or the other differ between colleges and four-year universities as students develop their perceptions of socialism particularly involving culture and education.

Through the findings of the study revolving through a qualitative observation of students in the cafeteria at Gateway and Parkside, they define that that college culture differs between community college and four-year universities in different ways. For example, college culture differs in that; the various sociology theories revolve around the distinct phenomenon. According to the participants and observations from the study, the social conflict theory is amongst one of the ways that college culture is differing between community colleges. Also, the occurrence revolving around college culture implies that the education system about communities has provided students with avenues for social networks, along with other social manifestations such as the transmission of culture, social control, cultural innovation along with other occurrence involving social integration (Horowitz, 2017). Correspondingly, there are various implications concerning the findings. For example, since the college culture differs between community colleges, it means that most of the students in the community colleges are ascribed to a particular community. Through such an occurrence, there is minimal diversity across college cultures which in one way or the other could render the possibility of social conflict.

Moreover, social strife creates a cultural gap that widens the difference in terms of college culture between community colleges and four-year universities. Various factors could be shared across culture. However, it is essential to ensure significant diversity in understanding the difference between college cultures in community colleges. To sum everything up, these implications are relevant since they create an understanding concerning college culture along with the various involvements in sociology. Also, it is applicable in the strive to ensure social responsibility majorly in education across communities and cultures in the various institutions of higher learning.


Giarrusso, Roseann R., and The Sociology Writing Group. 2013. A Guide to Writing Sociology Papers. 7th ed. New York, NY: Worth Publishers.

Horowitz, Irving. 2017. Professing s...

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Navigating Differences in College Culture: Community Colleges vs Four-Year Universities. (2022, Dec 29). Retrieved from

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