MinggHonestly, spend a little more on a car that will get you through college. The last thing you want is to get a cheap car that shits the bed every other month. I'd buy through a dealer too because you will at least get some kind of warrantee as opposite to buying through a private seller.
My friend bought her car through some woman and everything seemed fine on it. A week after she bought it the check engine light came on and it was throwin about 15 codes. It was almost 4 grand to get everything fixed and at that point she would have just been better off getting something better/nicer. So be careful with things like that.
My first car was a ford explorer. Kinda sucked. I have a wrangler now(JK) and the thing is a beast. Gas mileage is pretty shitty but it's fun as fuck to drive.
I got fucked over by a dealership. They charged me a thousand over the value and that was AFTER they took off a thousand because it needed work done. My parent's made me buy it because it was "reliable" yet I have had nothing but problems with it. I spent over a thousand dollars in less than a month because parts were going to shit. It's a 2003 Bonneville SE. Such a piece.
But a Wrangler is my dream car, or a 4Runner.
OP, if you're interested in a certain car, go to edmunds.com
and do some research on it. Look at customer reviews, particularly the 3 star ones. As those are usually the most accurate representations of the car. You can see all the different specs on whatever vehicle you're looking at.
DO YOUR RESEARCH, MAKE A SMART DECISION