As a high schooler, considering your college options can feel overwhelming. With so many opportunities, it can be difficult to know which type of school would be the best fit for you. If you're having trouble sorting through the different types of colleges, here's a simple explanation of the three most common college options to help you out.
1. Four-year colleges and universities
Four-year colleges and universities are what most people think of when someone says "college." These schools range from huge state schools to small liberal arts colleges and can offer you incredibly diverse experiences. In most cases, these schools will invite you to live away from home, which can be an incredibly rewarding experience. Four-year programs are usually more expensive than the alternatives, but they may end up giving you the highest earning potential.
2. Community Colleges
Community colleges are another great option to pursue after high school. You can attend whichever community college is in your area, and most programs will only take two years. Community college is significantly less expensive than four-year programs, and you will save money by being able to live at home, so it's a more affordable option. Community colleges are often more flexible than four-year programs and may allow you to go to school and work simultaneously.
3. Hybrid Community and Four-Year Programs
Many states offer hybrid programs in which you attend community college for your first two years, and then become eligible to transfer into a public university in your state. If your state offers them, these programs can give you the best of both worlds, allowing you to save a significant amount of money while also obtaining a bachelor's degree within four years and having the opportunity to live on a college campus. Some community colleges even have “pathways” programs to facilitate the transfer progress.