Didn't make it to your dream university this fall? Excellent!

Jealous that your friends are heading to that fancy out-of-state University? Forget it!

More and more research shows that even the brightest students gets as good or possibly a better college experience in a two year (community) college or four-year state university close to home than at one of those glamorous private four-year institutions.

Oh, and along with the better education you're going to have more money in your bank account, too:

  • Take the average two-year community college. It costs about $2500 per year—and for a lot of you, your family will get to deduct most of that cost from taxes. Add to that the savings you can make by living at home.

  • Compare that to the average cost as a modestly priced private university: about $25,000 per year.

  • Did you get that? One year at a private school is ten times as expensive as a community college, on average. An Ivy League school can cost twentytimes as much.

And did you miss this point? Major studies show that the cost of college has nothing to do with the amount you learn! In fact, you will probably learn more if you spend your first two years at a community college versus the fanciest Ivy League school, according to author Zac Bissonnette.

Head to Harvard, and for the first two years, expect a hundred people or more in your auditorium-classroom. And who is usually doing the teaching? A teacher's assistant. Big universities live for research. Big university professors live to write papers and books, rather than teach. And regardless of what they say to you during a campus tour, you—the freshman or sophomore—don't get much attention.

At a community college and at some four-year state schools, however, you're much more likely to have a small class and a teacher that likes to teach.

And get this: if you spend your first two years at a community college and transfer to a four-year school, your chances of graduating are equal to the chances of the person who spent all four years at the school. Oh, and if you transfer to a private university for your last two years, you'll saved at least fifty thousand bucks!

It also may make sense to look at a 4-year state college. Smaller state colleges can still be a great choice of education. Plus, compare the in-state versus outer-state costs of tuition. It may make sense to head to a 4-year state supported school near home, rather than far away.

Additionally: If you are a really gifted student, you'll find that many community colleges have honors programs that rival programs at Ivy League schools—and give you direct access to teachers who really like working with you.

Is it worth you hocking your soul to attend that fancy school for four years so that you can "network" with all those smart and rich students? No.

  • Spend your last two years there, and you'll meet the same students.

  • Studies show that your future income is decided by what you accomplish at a school, not who you meet. "A degree from a college like Harvard is no longer the lifetime guarantee of success in careers that it used to be," says Marty Nemko, who is considered one of the best career coaches in America.

So, What Should You Do if You Want a Four-Year Degree?

  1. Take control now. Start researching the community colleges close to you. If you're a really good student, find one with a good honors program. Ask the school for a list of universities that their students eventually attend.

  2. Hold off on moving out, especially if your family will still keep you!Make these two years a time to save money and study.

  3. Start looking at four-year schools as you attend your two-year school. Look at state-supported four-year schools, not just at private schools.

  4. Start connecting with students and others at the four-year school you want to attend later. You can start making friends and learning about the ropes at that university as you save on books and stuff your brain at your community college: join school social networks, look for school networking opportunities.

  5. Read these two articles, now. Both of these articles provided excellent resources for this article.

    1. "Why Your Kids Shouldn't Go to Harvard (even if they could get in)". By Marty Nemko.

    2. "The Smartest Students in America Go To ... Community Colleges? By Zac Bissonnette, a member of FoolProof's Advisory Board.

  6. Read Zac's book: Debt-Free U: How I Paid for an Outstanding College Education Without Loans, Scholarships, or Mooching off My Parents.Either buy it, or read it at the library. It has some great additional tips.

Getting an excellent college education doesn't have to break you financially. Think outside the box, and think close to home, and you'll be the one laughing all the way to the bank!

Hope this helps!

Cheers, Will