You Aren’t A Failure If You Choose To Go To Community College First

You Aren’t A Failure If You Choose To Go To Community College First

In fact, you're really smart for doing so.

I grew up thinking I would spend all four years of my collegiate career at a major university. In fact, up until two years before I was supposed to go off to school, I thought I was going to go to a major university straight out of high school. Then, two weeks before the Christmas of my junior year, my dad lost his job.

When I got the news that my parents could no longer pay for college, it hit me like a ton of bricks. Financial responsibility was not on my radar. I thought that was something I could worry about after I graduated with a Bachelors degree, if not a Masters.

I started looking into other options for school. At first, I thought I was just going to have to take out student loans for the whole four years. I didn’t even think about whether or not that was fiscally responsible of me. My parents didn’t have the money to pay it all in chunk change anymore-I was just doing what every other kid in my generation was doing. Then I had a reality check one day when I did the math and saw how much I would have to pay each month if I did that. I started thinking that school was going to be impossible for me- because I didn’t want to live as a slave to school debt the rest of my life.

When community college was put on the table, I immediately rejected it. There was a certain stigma at my high school that surrounded the kids that went to community college after high school. It was seen as the option for kids that weren’t good enough students to get into university, or a place for “the lessers of society” (yes actual quote from a classmate of mine). I thought, “I would rather go hundreds of thousands of dollars into debt before I ever step foot on a community college campus.” I thought this partially because of the stigma, and because I thought my academic standings were too superior to attend a community college.

But, that job loss did something to me. I stopped thinking of myself as an entitled upper-middle-class high school kid and came to the realization that my parent’s money is not my money. Shocking. I know. But that was a very big hurdle I had to leap over at the time.

So, after this enlightening moment of my life, I had to embrace the fact that I was broke. Completely broke. I didn’t have a cent in savings to put myself through school. Honestly, the more my parents and I discussed community college, the more and more it sounded like a no-brainer. Tuition with a $1,000 price tag to get all of my general education courses out of the way, compared to the average $6,000 price tag at a university. Free room and board for the first two years. Smaller class sizes so I could get to know my professors. And, in North Carolina, if you get an Associates Degree, all of your credits must transfer to the university you choose with you. All of the sudden I was looking at a maximum of $5,000 with books and tuition combined for the first two years of school, rather than the $20,000+ I would spend completing my GEDs at a four-year university.

After I made this decision, I started to discover just how shallow people can be if you do not meet societal expectations. At first, I hung my head when I told people I was going to community college. Like I said, it wasn’t a glamorous choice. All my classmates proudly wore the shirts of their four your university to Senior Day, and I wore a regular outfit. Teachers told me that I was making a huge mistake by going there. People insulted me with my choice of schools telling me, “Well, you get what you pay for.”

Now, I can stand here today, debt-free going into my last year of college, and tell you that if you are deciding to go to community college first, you will definitely get what you pay for. You will get financial freedom and flexibility. You will get one-on-one free tutoring with professors that know your name. You will get to work while you are going through those first two years to make the next two years more affordable. You will get the opportunity to figure out what the heck you want to do with your life before you are pressured into choosing something as a child and spending $20,000 on it before you realize, you really don’t want to do what high school you thought would make everyone happy with you.

Community college was the smartest decision I made. I am in a much better place in every aspect of my life today then I would have been if I decided to go to school for my desired career path in high school. I am so happy to have the flexibility to choose where I want to go and what I want to do after college because my wallet will not be tied town by SallieMae. So, thank you community colleges, for being the wonderful hidden treasure you are!

Cover Image Credit: Instagram

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To The Teacher Who Was So Much More

Thank you for everything

I think it's fair to say that most people remember at least one teacher who had a lasting impact on them. I have been incredibly lucky to have several teachers who I will never forget, but one individual takes the cake. So here's to you: thank you for all you have done.

Thank you for teaching me lessons not just in the textbook.

Although you taught a great lecture, class was never just limited to the contents of the course. Debates and somewhat heated conversations would arise between classmates over politics and course material, and you always encouraged open discussion. You embraced the idea of always having an opinion, and always making it be heard, because why waste your voice? You taught me to fight for things I believed in, and to hold my ground in an argument. You taught me to always think of others before doing and speaking. You showed me the power of kindness. Thank you for all the important lessons that may not have been included in the curriculum.

Thank you for believing in me.

Especially in my senior year, you believed in me when other teachers didn't. You showed me just what I could accomplish with a positive and strong attitude. Your unwavering support kept me going, especially when I melted into a puddle of tears weekly in your office. You listened to my stupid complaints, understood my overwhelming stress-induced breakdowns, and told me it was going to be okay. Thank you for always being there for me.

Thank you for inspiring me.

You are the epitome of a role model. Not only are you intelligent and respected, but you have a heart of gold and emit beautiful light where ever you go. You showed me that service to others should not be looked at as a chore, but something to enjoy and find yourself in. And I have found myself in giving back to people, thanks to your spark. Thank you for showing me, and so many students, just how incredible one person can be.

Thank you for changing my life.

Without you, I truly would not be where I am today. As cliche as it sounds, you had such a remarkable impact on me and my outlook on life. Just about a year has passed since my graduation, and I'm grateful to still keep in touch. I hope you understand the impact you have made on me, and on so many other students. You are amazing, and I thank you for all you have done.

Cover Image Credit: Amy Aroune

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Five Tips to Get on Top of Your 2019: Tech Editions

Yeah, there's an app for that.


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Google Calendar.

Look at that beauty.

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Google Doc File Folders


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Momentum Chrome Extension

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This is a to-do list on steroids- definitely worth checking out!


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