I have conversation with students every year as they narrow down their college options. Many students consider attending a junior college or community college to help save on tuition or to help them “try out” a few college courses first to see what really interests them. The most important thing to remember is to allow for options. One thing I’ve learned over the years is that students change their minds, often. So, I have included a few of my recommendations for students who are debating between the two.
First and foremost, ask yourself, “How do I handle transition(s)?” “Do I make transitions easily?” Think about how you may have transitioned into high school or middle school? Maybe a move to a new neighborhood? If you determine that a community college is the way to go, it could be hard to transition from a community college and then two years later transition again to a four year college.
Check to make sure community college credits will transfer to the 4 year school (In state public schools should accept all of the credits but it is always a good idea to double check.) If the credits don't transfer from 100% of your courses, you could lose time and money. Keep copies of all of your syllabi too! Often times that is what the four year colleges will ask to see if they will offer you credit for the same class.
Recommendation #3 (Community College Option)
Do a cost comparison. If you live in an apartment, what will your grocery budget be? Will you need to buy lunch on campus or pack a lunch? Buying your meals on campus could get expensive thus not making it as affordable as you think.
Will you drive back and forth from class? The more back and forth you drive, the more gas money you spend. In addition, may be inconvenient for night classes to drive back and forth or get you home much later
Another question to ask yourself is “Do I want a traditional college experience with football games, Greek life, etc.? If so, you probably won’t find that at a two year institution.
Recommendation #5 (4 Year College Option)
Everything is convenient because it is right there on campus, don't need to find a place to park, don't need to prepare meals which frees up more of your time to spend on academics or clubs/activities on campus.
All of the students are transitioning together and experiencing the same things at the same time. It is much easier to get involved on campus when other students live on campus with you (not as many students commuting back and forth)
Typically (not always) students get more involved more at 4 year colleges.
As you can see there are many things to consider before choosing which college is best for you. Take your time. Do your research on each option and follow your gut. Typically your gut instinct is often the best way to go.