How Community College Benefited Me

When I was a senior in high school, I was so excited to go away to college and live that “college” life that I’d seen in so many movies.  Even if my school of choice was only a half hour away from my house, I was pumped to be on my own.

College = Expensive

After graduation, the idea of college was finally real.  It wasn’t a future thought anymore, I had to start looking into expenses and whatnot.  I probably should have done that earlier, but my procrastination wasn’t any better in high school than it is now.  I looked at tuition prices for my school of choice and I couldn’t believe the cost.  I always heard about how college was expensive, but I wasn’t expecting it to be that expensive.

I looked into room and board prices as well, and was even more taken aback.  That much money, to share a room the size of a closet with someone?  In a not-so-good area?  Having to walk down the hall to use the bathroom and share a shower with people?  Really?  I started rethinking my decision.  I wanted to live the college life, but at what cost?

Journalist = $20k

I’m majoring in journalism.  Most internships are unpaid and entry level positions start at only $20,000 a year.  Did I want to rack up tens of thousands of dollars of debt when I really didn’t have to?  My parents decided that if I agreed to go to community college first, they’d pay for the time I spend there, then I just have to take loans out when I transferred to a university.  As much as it bummed me out to agree to this, especially since my best friends were both going away to school, I did.

I was bitter at the beginning of the semester.  I hated telling people that I was “starting off at community college.”  I worked really hard to do well in high school, and I ended up going to a school that accepted everyone.

Community College = Less debt, More Friends, Great Professors

Community college wasn’t as bad as I expected, though.  I was able to work and go to school, and the way school was scheduled, working didn’t hinder getting to class or getting my work done.  I could save up some money that I wouldn’t have saved while away at school, because I probably wouldn’t have had a job starting out.

Even though I didn’t live at school, I still made friends.  I joined the school paper, and met a lot of great people with the same interests that I did.  Yeah, it was unfortunate that my friends who went away to school only had time for their school friends, and as the semester went on, they came home less and less frequently, but that got me more motivated to meet new people.

The staff was smaller than the college paper I write for now, and it was a lot more personal.  We got to know each other and had fun.  Same with the classes.  Smaller classes made for more time with the professors, and they got to know their students better.

I was so worried about how attending a community college would make me look.  Like I wasn’t smart enough to go to a “real college.”  That wasn’t the case at all.  I got my prerequisites out of the way, for a much lower cost than it would have been to take the same classes at a university.  If money is a factor, I do believe that community college is a great way to soften the blow.

You = Community College?

I can’t say whether community college is right for you or not.  If you want to be involved with a lot of clubs on campus, or join the Greek system, going straight to a university might be your best choice.  Figuring out what you’re doing for college is one of the first tough decision you’ll make and only you will be able to make that choice.  As much as I thought I would, though, I really don’t regret my decision to start off at community college at all.

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Carmen Bojanowski

Carmen Bojanowski

Carmen Bojanowski is a senior at Eastern Michigan University, double majoring in journalism and communications. She writes for her college newspaper, mostly covering local bands and interns at 89x, a metro-Detroit radio station. She frequents the movie theater and when she has free time, she likes spend it with her friends. Carmen hopes to one day be a music journalist.