Universities can be great places to learn all sort of things in whatever you're interested in, but they're not always the best at teaching everything that goes into getting those coveted degrees. Although community college isn't on everyone's wishlist, it can be an excellent stepping stone on your way to get a degree, and might just be the best way to learn how to be a successful student in college.
1. Take responsibility
In high school, I always felt like other people had at least some responsibility for my education, especially my parents and teachers. I felt like they should care as much as I should, if not more. When I failed, I felt like they were partially to blame. When I started taking college courses, I realized nobody is responsible for what I do except for me. Sure, that includes day to day choices, but it also includes whether or not I succeed. Although it's easy to put blame on people that have an impact on me, succeeding or not is ultimately a decision, and one that I alone make.
2. Take charge
Talk is cheap. Beyond simply accepting responsibility for your education, you have to take charge of it too. This one was particularly hard for me since I typically like to avoid being a leader. But sooner or later, you'll find out that if you don't command your college experience, someone else will, and that's a surefire path to doing someone other than what you're passionate about.
3. You're paying for it
Sure, there's the stereotype of the broke college kid, and universities are certainly more expensive than community colleges. Even with that lower tuition and no room and board expenses, community college students are thrifty. Maybe it's because they're probably also working a full-time job or juggling a family, but if you're looking for a PDF of a textbook or general college finance hacks, these are definitely the students to hit up with questions.
4. Fight for grades
Not like that kid who wants another half point on a test to bump their grade up to a 4.0, I'm talking about arguing with a professor who failed you on an assignment. Community college students aren't afraid to fight for a grade on the grounds of pretty much any reason they can think of. While they might not be making any friends with those professors, they manage to pass the class.
5. Do whatever it takes
Unlikely partnerships and teamwork are practically trademarks of community college. With so many different motivations for attending, the collaborations in labs, projects, and any other kind of group work really are almost inspirational. To these people, doing whatever it takes doesn't mean stepping on everyone else to reach success, but rather putting in whatever amount of effort and resourcefulness it takes to reach a goal.
6. Don't be ashamed of office hours or asking questions
This was another one I struggled with for a long time. It can be embarrassing to ask a question you think everyone else knows the answer to, or being the only one to attend a professor's office hours. Sometimes, however, it's simply the only way to get by. At the end of the day, nobody cares if you asked a billion questions and attended office hours daily. What matters is the grade that's added to your transcript.
7. It's never too late
Take this however you like; it's never too late to attend college, change majors, take that one class, they're all true. It even be your second attempt at doing something, or even your second chance at a life. But guaranteed, at a community college, you're not the only one.
8. School is important
During one of my first Physics II lectures, my professor asked how many students had a job. Nearly every student raised their hand, with most students adding that they worked full time. A few even worked upwards of 60 hours per week, topping off two days a week with a three-hour lecture at night, as well as whatever other classes they were taking. Obviously, this is not representative of all students, but the lesson is clear: it can be done. Whatever else is going on in your life while attending college, know that it is possible to power through it.
9. But it's not the most important
Although school is extremely important, the small-picture details are not. You don't have to 4.0 every class or have three internships each summer or meet any other impossibly high standards you might think you do. Always give yourself enough flexibility to stay sane, and save some time for family, too. Life doesn't stop just because you're in college, and you shouldn't have to stop doing what makes you happy.
10. It can be done
Attending a community college commencement ceremony is honestly one of the most inspirational things I've ever witnessed. People of all ages and backgrounds were overjoyed at earning their associate's degree or certificate. Even though that's only half the amount of time most people spend at a university, it was still more than what most of those students thought they could ever accomplish. And while many of them would continue onto greater things, they didn't forget to take pride in what they had accomplished already, knowing that anything can be done with enough desire.