I'm doing a seminar for foster youth today to discuss the potential advantages of attending a two-year community college and then transferring to a four-year school. Here are a few reasons that path can be a good option for the right student:
Community colleges are significantly cheaper than four-year colleges. For example, in California, a full-time student pays about $625 for a year at a community college. A student at one of the University of California campuses, however, pays about $9,000 per year not including room and board.
2. A fresh start
When you apply to a four-year college as a community college transfer student, your high school records are usually not taken into consideration. So if you're not happy with your performance in high school, or if you just don't have the grades to attend the colleges you're interested in, community college lets you start over and show four-year schools what you're really capable of doing.
3. Transfer agreements
Most community colleges make transfer agreements with a variety of four-year colleges (especially with public schools in the same state). Most of those agreements stipulate that students who take the required classes and maintain the minimum required GPA will be given the highest admissions priority when they apply. It takes the guesswork out of college admissions. Take the classes and get the grades the agreement outlines, and your chances of admission are at the very least dramatically improved, and at the very most, guaranteed.
I like the community college option for some students. If you don't have the grades or the money to attend a four-year school, community colleges can help you get there in two years. And some students just aren't ready for a four-year college yet, which I think is fine.
Remember, nobody will ever ask you where you started college. They'll only ask you where you finished.