I remember questioning if community college was truly the best path for me in my freshman year. Now, I am about to finish my last semester here confident that I made the right choice.
At first, I was hesitant about going to a community college. I heard many of my peers excitedly buzzing about the four-year schools they were going to attend. When they asked me where I was going, I could feel their excitement dissipate.
I didn’t want to talk about going to a junior college because of the negative stigma that seems to revolve around it. I couldn’t argue with the tuition prices and scholarships, though. There was no way around it: community college was cheaper.
It isn’t just the price, though. The terror surrounding the idea of college set in as soon as I took off my high school graduation cap.
Going from high school to college seemed daunting and a community college felt like a safer transition into the real world for many reasons.
I went from a high school where each classroom held around 20 to 30 students, to a college that had similar class sizes. This was extremely helpful, especially to students who are a little nervous about college.
Since the classes are a manageable size, professors have the opportunity to give students unique, one-on-one experiences during class time. This gives students a priceless chance to network before graduating, something that’s worlds more difficult at large, four-year universities.
These are things that students should be talking about when deciding where to go. The small classes build a foundation for understanding the basics of your major.
The only downside to the community college experience is the seemingly lacking social life. But, campus social life can be a double-edged sword for freshmen. I had friends that attended a four-year school and they had to retake their entire first year due to focusing on partying rather than school.
This is not always the case, but it’s easy to fall into the party trap when there’s always somewhere to be. I know it sounds odd, but the lack of wild parties around the college made it easier to, well, not party.
This made my first semester seem isolating and lonely, mostly because I didn’t know where to go to meet new people.
I was hearing the same advice I always got in high school: join clubs! Get involved in organizations! Find a niche! Here’s the thing, though. You hear this advice so often because it’s true. The other people getting involved are in the same situation as you are, equally as eager to make friends.
So, the college doesn’t have many ragers, but there are still people to hang out with. The secret is that you have to reach out and make connections. Clubs and organizations at this level are always recruiting new people due to the quick turnout of students; most students don’t realize this and are too intimidated to sign up.
The quick turnout makes it easier to get a leadership role in many clubs. For example, I am a sophomore and the Editor-in-chief of the college’s newspaper, The Campus Ledger. That just isn’t something that happens at four-year schools.
In a four-year school, I would be lucky to work at their paper at all as a sophomore. Community college may not be the most interesting place to go, but I have made connections and had opportunities that I just wouldn’t get a a four-year school.
Community college has prepared me for the next step in my adult life
This story was featured in our 50th anniversary edition.