Around here the people who spread the idea that community college is for losers ... are the students themselves. Our guidance counselors are quite even-handed in discussing 4-year schools vs. community college.
However, my two kids made different choices: One went straight to university, while the other opted to begin at community college. Both were honors students in high school, and both made the right choice for themselves after high school. I'll say this: For the student who is emotionally and academically ready, going straight to university is the better option:
- My kid who went straight to university was surrounded by a better peer group, had more options in terms of coursework and extra-curriculars and on-campus jobs, had much more support from the university in terms of transitioning from high school to college, and has had a much easier time planning her schedule. She made good choices, graduated on time with honors, and is now working in her field.
- In contrast, the kid who went to community college has encountered more trouble with administration (no help with planning coursework, even when I went with her to try to get help ... awful time registering the first time, and it was all because they hadn't checked her high school coursework), has been surrounded with more slackards who lasted only a semester, and in spite of having done everything right at the community college, she'll need 5 semesters at the university because of coursework sequencing. Do I regret her choice? No. She wasn't ready to leave home, and this was her best option, but it isn't "equal" to the first two years at a university.
What do I say to my students? I tell them the truth: Multiple paths to success exist, and you need to pick the right one -- all paths have pros and cons, and you need to learn the truth about those rewards and costs. That means considering your academic and emotional readiness, and one aspect of the big picture is being realistic about your finances.