People gave me a lot of grief about my decision to attend community college after high school. “You’ll be missing out on the real college experience,” was the main concern echoed by many opinionated bystanders. Now, having spent time at both community college and a major university, it recently dawned on me that community college is incredibly worthwhile. In fact, it may even be better than the giant school. Here are three things I genuinely miss since transferring out:
1. Diversity in Age & Life Experiences
At community college, you are surrounded by students of all ages, from 18 to 80. This means more possibilities for interesting interactions. In speech class, an ex-marine told of the lives he saved and taught us how to do CPR. In voice class, a middle aged mother who immigrated from Iran shared her life story and sang traditional songs to the class. In choir, an ex-Korean pop star showed me videos of her crazy sold-out shows back home. I loved that I could learn so much from classmates with fascinating life experiences under their belt.
2. Professors Do the Grading
Classes are generally smaller at community college, and the professors (who hold a minimum of a masters degree in my state) are the ones doing the grading. I also loved that teachers knew the students by name. It was such a bizarre shift to move to a university, sit in a lecture hall anonymously with hundreds of students, and have a TA my age grading my work. Community college was a lot more personal.
3. A Sense of Independence and Freedom
You know what was nice? Being able to pace myself according to the jobs I was working and the projects I was involved in. Some semesters I enrolled full time, others part time. Some sessions, I didn’t register at all. When I jumped over to the major university, I had intense health problems and needed to space out my schedule. They told me no, that I only had two years to complete everything unless I appealed for more time. I couldn’t believe how much it ran like a factory. Community college seemed to understand the concept of real life. I was able to make my own decisions and be in control of my education.
It’s important to remember that no single place has everything we’re looking for. The grass may literally be greener at my current school, but that doesn’t mean it’s perfect. Wherever you are on your educational path, try to recognize that there is plenty of beauty around you right now, and don’t get too hung up on the idea that you’re missing out on anything. Universities are great, but community college is awesome too. And I didn’t even mention the cost, convenience, or the never-ending sweat pants party.
What do some of the world’s most influential and interesting contributors think about subjects important to you? Find out by visiting The Opinionator from The New York Times