I did not want to go to community college.

It was never part of the plan. MY plan to be exact.

Until my mother dropped the news on me junior year of high school that there simply was not enough money to send me to a four-year college right away.

So I got a job, took high school IB courses (which would later count as college credits), and bought a car to earn my independence from my parents. The normal kind of independence that normal kids find when they go to a four-year college.

But I bought into the stigma of community college and all the usual stereotypes that came with it. I would gripe and complain as my friends went away and I was stuck in traffic on the commute to campus every day. As I worked my ass off in the classroom and behind the counter at work. I believed what society wanted me to believe: that everyone who went to community college was only there because they couldn’t get in anywhere else, that the classes at community college were easier and therefore, I wasn’t being challenged as much as other college students were; that everyone was there because they didn’t want to be there.

Needless to say, my first year was miserable. But in retrospect, I know now that it was because I let myself be. In reality, professors and classes at community colleges are just as challenging and insightful as at four-year colleges. In reality, most people had been accepted into other colleges but simply couldn’t afford to go. And most people on campus went there, DESPITE the world telling them that they couldn’t, despite their difficult circumstances, with the desire to work hard and be more than what the world was telling them to be.

My third semester at community college was amazing. I learned more about myself and my fellow peers as I realized that hey, I was pretty good at juggling and keeping my GPA up. I was pretty good at trying. I found that as I became accustomed to my school, that I was actually getting the hang of being a college student.

I strongly advise anyone who is considering community college to take the plunge. For three semesters I have been fortunate enough to go to college for free due to scholarships and financial aid. There are still some drawbacks to consider of course: going through the transferring process, going through the application process twice, and of course having to adjust to a new campus after just two years.

But my opinion? It’s worth it. Though the transferring process is intimidating and nerve-wracking, community college is a great path to take, despite the egotistical stigma placed against it. It has given me the space to learn more about myself and the independence to be able to stand on my own. It has always been my choice to attend classes, to work hard, and to take college seriously – something that constant party-goers at a four-year college might not do until making very big mistakes their first couple of semesters.

I know that no matter what is thrown to me at the four-year college I plan to attend, I will be prepared for it and have the strength to conquer all. Community college causes you to become independent within a couple of weeks, or risk drowning. It causes you to mature and grow as you juggle work and class and do well in both. It has taught me more about myself and I highly recommend it to anyone who fears it, like I did.

Photo: HerCampus.com

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