Senior year. Everyone buzzing with excitement as they got college acceptance letters, all showing off the fancy private schools they would be a part of.
I, on the other hand, mostly just kept my mouth shut. I was starting out at the local community college, something that, in our upper middle-class suburban school, was looked down upon. While I had no doubt I could have made it into almost any school I wanted, I didn't have rich parents to pay for it, so I was on my own.
It turns out, it was the best decision I ever made. Now when I'm asked, I'll proudly sing the praises of my Alma Mater. Here is why community college is the best way to go for any student.
It's Cost Effective
This is probably the biggest one. Especially if you are a commuter, it costs a fraction of private and even state schools. Even if you plan on transferring later on, having at least two years of community college prices is will really cut down on your college costs.
You Can Explore
Because you're not spending $50,000 a year, you are freer to explore different areas of study. Even if you have to stay an extra semester or two because of it, it isn't going to be as detrimental financially as having to spend extra time at a private school. And let's be real: who actually knows what they want to do when they first graduate high school?
Time To Mature
I loved how during my second semester, I saw multiple students from my high school who made me feel bad about going to community college now taking classes with me because they couldn't hack it out at a four-year. At our age, two years makes a huge difference when it comes to maturity. While there is no shame in going to community college, there is a little shame in getting kicked out of school and having to come slinking back to your hometown.
You May Not Like Your First School
Maybe you won't like the local community college after a semester or two. That's fine, transfer to another school. You also run the risk of not liking a private or state university. Better not to waste that much money on a school you don't like.
State schools have huge class sizes. You could have over one hundred students in your lecture hall. My community college classes had thirty, max. I personally liked being able to have a conversation with my professor. I was talking to someone who said 'well, the information is the same'. Well, yes, but if you need help, professors are notoriously difficult to track down. At community college, our professors were more personally invested in us and wanted us to succeed.
Speaking of professors, most of a college professor's job isn't teaching, it's research. So you're paying all this money for professors that aren't even paying that much attention to the student. At least at my community college, that wasn't the case. Professors didn't have to do research. One of my professors said he liked that aspect, and didn't understand why anyone would want to teach at a four-year school after teaching at the community college.
The Best People
Community college often gets a bad rep because it takes any student. But that includes brilliant students, not just burn-outs. Join extracurricular activities, and you'll probably find the most amazing, dedicated, and talented people you have ever met. I know I did.
College is an amazing time, full of self-discovery and adventure. But it can also be an easy time to get into financial and personal trouble. Community college is the perfect starting point for any student to help avoid some of those pitfalls. If I could tell my high school self one thing, it would be not to worry about the haters. You're smart. You're making the right decision. And you are in for the best two years of your life.