After going to college for a few years, I have learned somethings along my way. This knowledge I have gained has not always been in the classroom. I have seen the importance of different perspectives, taken chances on new experiences, and understood you decide the path you take while attending college. One thing is for sure though, to some community college is a lesser education. It is a place for dropouts, burnouts, and people who aren't "smart enough" to go to a 4-year university right off the bat.

After going through my local community college and then now attending a 4-year university, I know firsthand that these perceptions about community college are not true. I only attended school at my local community college for one year due to a once in a lifetime opportunity that I don't regret doing, but in the end, I do not regret my choice to attend community college.

It is not just about the financial differences between a 4-year university and a community college.

Yes, attending your local community college can save significant money and reduce student loans for the future, but that is not the only benefit of going to community college. For one, you get to have two different college experiences. From a smaller campus to a large university, you get to meet different people whether students or faculty, unique college cultures, and an overall new experience. Going to a community college first gives you opportunities you may not have at larger universities. In the majority of your classes, you can truly get to know your professors and classmates because of the smaller class sizes. You are not just a number. This aspect of getting to know others around me is very important to me because I come from a small rural community and high school. I wasn't sure how well the transition would go from living in a town of 200 people to attending a campus of over 40,000 people would be.

Attending a community college was a stepping stone for me of a gradual increasing educational system. Not only are the size of classes or the financial savings can be benefits of community college, but you have two extra years to grow older and wiser. You can get a chance to learn more about yourself before venturing off and being on your own. The difference between being 18 and 20 aren't huge numerically, but the personal development you do while in those two years is tremendous. In my opinion, going to a community college first gives students of all backgrounds and career goals an advantage because of financial savings, experiences. and so much more.

Trying to limit people's educational options is hurting different job sectors like the trade industry for instance, but not we are putting an unnecessary burden on students to fit into a certain mold of education. Not everyone is made for a 4-year university, but also just as important, not everyone's career goals align with a 4-year degree. Going to a trade school, getting a certificate, or obtaining an associate's degree does not lessen the person's education they gained. I am proud to have gone to community college to get some of my general education classes because in the end, this was my best decision for me. Whether you attend community college or not, don't undervalue the benefits of these opportunities can bring you.

Do your research, find your passion, and make sure the decisions you make towards your future are the best for you.