06 September 2010

Community college does NOT mean you're dumber

As I am watching a friend of mine go through college applications, and insist on going to a great school, I am thrown back into the memories of when I was going through the process myself, 6 years ago. I remember that one of the biggest issues to me was- Does the university have a good reputation? Is it away from home?

At the time, the price sticker didn't bother me, and I kept pleading my case for Baylor University, a private university where tuition is nearly $40,000 a year. I refused to even APPLY to a community college, because I was too proud. I didn't want to look stupid, or poor, I wanted to look smart, and I wanted to live in a dorm. I wanted to go to a school that was really fancy and advanced.

Once I got to college, after unwillingly not going to Baylor (even after I was accepted and offered a [small] scholarship), I settled for the University of Texas at Arlington. I was very unhappy- this was NOT my choice, this was my parents' choice, because they didn't want to pay for it, they weren't gonna take out loans for me, and they wanted me close to home so they didn't have to pay for a dorm. I held a resentment against them for this for a long time.

Sometimes, I still get resentful that I didn't get to go to my college of choice, but, I've accepted UTA as my school, and I am glad that I ended up there. The professors are great, the classes are more affordable, and the campus is beautiful. The students are great, they have great programs, and they're overall a pretty good school.

I still regret, though, that I hadn't taken my basic core courses at a community college. I thought I was too smart for a community college- and so I took my pride to UTA, and dredged my way through my lower level courses, coming out with a barely acceptable GPA and thousands of dollars more spent on classes.

Let's say that tuition at TCC is approximately 1/2 that of UTA (generous, because it's actually far less than that). That would leave me at saving about $4,000 a year on classes alone. Multiply that by 5 years, and I've saved $20,000, and I'm still going to get an IDENTICAL degree. My GPA might have been higher if my pride hadn't been in the way. I'd not have had to work as much, or I might even still have a job. I'd still be going to UTA and could still get my social work degree, but there would have been fewer obstacles.

Honestly, I knew nothing about college because nobody around me had ever gone to college. I was very disillusioned about the nature of college, and how it is paid for. I didn't know what classes would be like at the university/college level, and I had no sense of what was coming. I can only wish that I could spread this knowledge to other students who are a bit lost in the process. Seriously, if anyone has questions about the college process, I would LOVE to be able to help them out. As a junior/senior, finishing out my courses, I am now glad to say that I am familiar with the process, and no longer beaten down about what college I'm going to- it's the knowledge I'm getting that matters, and you can earn knowledge at any school, regardless of costs. Make sure you consider all your options- and yes, even community colleges, because going to community college does not mean you're dumb. In fact, I believe it makes you wise, because you know that you can make your time count without spending tens of thousands of dollars for a prettier classroom. I learned this lesson the hard way- don't let the same happen to you.

Peace, Love, and Music ☮♥♫♪

1 comment:

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