As a high school senior, seventeen year old me, was filling out eleven college applications, finishing up my last attempt at the SAT, involved in eight extracurriculars including my former position as ASB Senior Class President, taking piano lessons, consistently volunteering all while taking four AP classes at the same time and somehow managing to have a social life. This was my everyday sleepless life. I loved it; I relished in the idea that all the work I was putting in would one day pay off. However, everything did not work out the way I had anticipated when I got rejection letters from my top university choices.
Class of 2017's graduation day
Before I knew it, the dorm shopping, packing of household necessities, a long farewell to my parents, college parties, and endless hours of studying and research took a seat on the back burner as I enrolled myself into community college. I lived the short but lengthy typical college freshman experience through the eyes of my friends.
However, though I make my experience sound a bit morbid, community college did change my life for the better. I learned to be independent, how the basic foundation of college courses work and to go against the stereotype.
Shakeh Balian: Mathematics teacher and Armenian Club Advisor Jocelyn Rieken
As far as being independent goes…
I met with an academic counselor after I enrolled myself into Glendale Community College (GCC). My counselor told me transferring out within a year would be close to impossible. I was encouraged to take my time and even take an extra semester if I needed. Frankly, this disquieted meeting with my counselor upset me and in a way pushed me to get all my coursework done in a curtailed amount of time.
A couple of my best friends decided to attend the same community college as me, so it was easy to stay in touch and fit in. However, at the same time, I had to consistently remind myself if I wanted to reach my goals, I would have to get things done a little differently than my friends. Even if it meant leaving them for a short period of time. This forced me to be independent and keep track of my grades, classes and keep in touch with admissions counselors at USC and UC Berkeley on my own.
Many students believe their counselor knows best, but often times it may be more beneficial for freshmen at a community college to experiment on their own and figure out the calculations of their units by themselves. As a prospective transfer student, it is important to remember the limited amount of counselors on campus are juggling hundreds of student's schedules and transfer options at once. It can become very difficult for them to create the most efficient schedule for everyone and have it individually tailored to each student. Taking the risk and testing outcomes on my own was more beneficial for me than anticipated.
A basic foundation…
Though many people compare community college to high school, it is not quite the same. You are given a syllabus in advance. No one is there to hold your hand, no one cares if you skip class—you're paying for it regardless, no one is printing worksheets out for you. You are basically on your own even though you are expected to go above the standard for an adequate G.P.A.
Community college prepared me for the real thing. In my first semester, I learned that just because someone is typing away on their laptop during class to take "notes", does not mean I need to do the same. Different studying and note taking methods are used for different types of people. It is very easy to overlook the various options there are for test and note taking strategies. Once I found what methods worked best for me and which Starbucks I could alternate between when studying during the week, I began to get into a weekly routine.
However, with this being said, committing to a strict schedule and allocating a sufficient amount of time to study between work and school was probably my biggest challenge. In high school, though I committed to numerous extracurriculars, I did not have a job. Once I began my studies in college, a job was crucial for me. Not only for financial purposes, but for the sake of my resume and experience as a business major. Inevitably, there were nights where I wanted to drop out of school and quit my job at the same. But there were nights where I would breeze through coursework and consider going for a Ph.D. Community college helped guide in the right direction and allowed me to practice balancing my schedule while it instilled the importance of time within me.
Community college allowed me to understand the fundamentals of college and bring all my goals and ambitions to fruition. Though I was ready to jump right into rigorous coursework, research and numerous internships after graduating high school, a CC granted me an eye-opening experience to fulfill my ambitions.
Beating the stereotype...
It is easy for many people who have not gone through community college themselves to stereotype students who do choose the CC route. Many people in my life advised me to go to a Cal State or University I received acceptances from in high school and many people even told me that I would live a stagnate life at a community college and be unable to transfer. At this point in my life, the odds were all against me and so were the people I looked up to. However, I think I was the biggest obstacle for myself; my own worst enemy.
I am guilty of contributing to the stigma about community college. In high school, I was against the CC route and thought most people who attend community college, do not end up transferring out or end up staying for four or plus years and do not receive a Bachelors until they reach their mid-twenties.
However, in attending community college I did not only gain an acceptance to my dream school I gained experiences that I would have never been able to encounter if I had gone elsewhere. I learned what it meant for parents to go back to school for their kids, how being an international student does not just take place at grandiose universities but can start at a community college as well. I saw how someone could view a CC as a safe haven to recover from their depression and for some, even serve as a stepping stool to get their life back together. I learned that some professors are not perfect and can be trying to figure their life out just as much as us students. I even made some friends I would have never anticipated meeting in my life who pushed me to reach my goals on the days I doubted myself the most.
Most importantly, I learned to look past the stigmas about community college and to stop stereotyping the decisions people make in their lives to further their career. The saying "everyone has their own path", goes a long way. Without this experience, I truly would not be the student and person I am today.
Acceptance DayKaterina Kojababian
There is no doubt I was eager to find out where I would attend college, which scholarship I would receive and what kind of path my life would lead to after high school. I was confident I would get into at least one of my top choices: UC Berkeley, USC or Occidental College. My goals were big but so were my actions.
As a student, I did everything these schools wanted from me. Though the goal was to be admitted to leading universities straight out of high school, I had to remind myself I was doing all of this work for the betterment of myself and the possibility that I could benefit a mass majority of society. Community college helped guide me in the right direction and ensured that all the decisions I made for my career were correct.
So as a personal note to all the transfers out there, keep your head up high, do not give up and always stay persistent. You can fall down seven times as long as you get up eight. I assure you whatever adversity you are facing will all be worth in the end.
…and don't forget to always Fight On!
Certificate of Admission