Why I went to community college first

Baby Vanessa (& baby Jacob) in 2009

Baby Vanessa (& baby Jacob) in 2009

I got into MSU as a senior in high school, but I didn’t want to go there. I had a plan. Thanks to my high school grades, I got a $2,000 scholarship to Oakland Community College. It would nearly cover my entire first year. I would go to OCC for two years and then transfer to MSU as a junior, successfully graduating in four years and paying less for the piece of paper. But I felt some push to go to a four-year university.

“You’ll miss out on the dorms and the experience!”

“You’ll regret it.”

“It’s important to get out on your own.”

Whatever. I ignored those sons-of-bitches and went to community college. It was a great solution for me, and I still met great people and made great friends. I had some incredible professors. I learned just as much as I did at MSU. It was the absolute perfect experience for me and I do not regret a thing (in fact, I often miss OCC more than I miss MSU, no matter how much I dig my PW buddies). It was a great bridge from high school to college. I didn’t feel pushed out of my house and stranded in a big college all on my own. It let me slowly build up my independence, so by the time I was moving out of my mom’s house I felt ready.

But let’s go over some pros and cons of attending a community college before transferring to a four-year.


  • Save money
  • Live at home (this was a pro for me. I got to stay close to some of my close friends and live with my mother, whom I have a great relationship with. I also got to stay in the lives of my brothers longer, which I am grateful for)
  • Missing out on the dorms (I like cooking my own food, thank you very much)
  • Community college has some GREAT courses. I learned much more in my general classes at OCC than I did at MSU and at a fraction of the price
  • Smaller classes and a greater variety of students—I became friends with several people a lot older than me who were back for an education or taking classes for fun
  • Smaller campus—easier to navigate and easier to get a job on (I worked as an English Literacy Tutor for a year and a half, plus as a French Study Instructor)
  • If you take a bad class, at least you aren’t paying thousands of dollars for it


  • Live at home (this might be a con for you even though it was a pro for me)
  • By starting at a four-year college as a junior, it’s harder to make friends as most people have already formed their friend groups (regardless, I made great friends—it just took two semesters)
  • You miss the experience of the dorms (pro for me, might be a con if you reeeeally wanna do that)
  • Less FinAid once you do get to a four-year university (however, that didn’t matter for me because OCC saved me so much money)
  • If you don’t know where you’re going to transfer to, many of the classes you take at a community college might not transfer—and that means wasted time and money. Knowing if your classes transfer and having a plan is super important

So, what do you think? Did you do community college first or a full four years in one place? Do you wish you’d done it differently?

Vanessa is a digital media coordinator by day and a writer, novelist, and badass cook by night. She loves used bookstores, is way too serious about tea, and doesn’t give a damn if she wears the same outfit 2 days in a row. She totally wants to be your friend, so you should follow her on twitter & maybe check out her writing blog.

6 thoughts on “Why I went to community college first

  1. I went to a community college – granted I dropped out, but I really loved the experience. It was welcoming. A lot more so than I think a 4-year would have been at first. I had some really amazing professors.
    Basically, this post makes me want to go back to school…

  2. Thank you Vanessa for such a wonderful blog about your experience at Oakland Community College! We are thrilled you not only saved money by getting your required courses done with us, but also enjoyed your time. We are going to be sharing your blog on our social media, so expect some more visitors soon! 🙂 Thank you again, we are so happy to have you as an alum at OCC.

    ~Marketing at OCC

    • Thank you so much! I’m glad you found my blog, and I really appreciate your kind words (and your sharing of the blog as well). I loved my experience at OCC, and I’m ever grateful for everything I learned there.

      Thank you again!

  3. I love this post. Love! I went to a four-year university (in Canada). It was a parent mandated move, but I don’t regret it. That said, I would attend a smaller college environment in a heartbeat. (I, too, would love to go back to school. And will, absolutely, when/if I can get into my program of choice and when/if I can fund another bit of post-secondary education.)

    • Four-years are better for some and not for others—I’m glad that you enjoyed your experience, though! Also… you should definitely go back to school. Especially if you’re passionate about it. I doubt I’ll go back—I have too much beef with school now. Except for community college classes just for the sake of learning. I’ll do that again. 🙂

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