6 Reasons to Attend a Community College

By Anna Sharudenko on March 23, 2020

Just when I turned 17, I stepped foot into Santa Monica College, which is a community college. I didn’t know what I wanted or how I would accomplish anything. My mom was a cancer patient and I was coding as a side gig to keep us afloat. I recently turned nineteen. In three months, I will be going to a university — here in California — as a third-year English major. Then, law school.

When I told some of my high school friends that I would be attending a community college, I didn’t get a nice response. They practically equated the news to me totally going off the rails and becoming a full-time TikTok star (as if something is wrong with that if that’s your cup of tea?). I was heartbroken because here I was: I finished high school early and was going to a community college with a bruised ego. They told me, “but you are so smart, why are you going there?”

I compiled a list of reasons and why I think all kids should consider my path. College is not a one-size-fits-all experience and I am tired of the stigma behind community college education. I am not worse than others for going to a community college for the first two years, neither are my life long friends who I met here.

via Unsplash

1. You can graduate high school early through passing CHSPE (California High School Proficiency Exam) after 10th grade and begin community college.

Not only will you surpass your peers, but you will actually start learning things that you want to learn. You win time and opportunity.

2. You will save money. A lot of money.

In California, private universities are around $50,00 – $75,000 a year. Multiply that by 4 and you get $200,000 – $300,000 only for your Bachelor’s. If we take state schools (in-state resident tuition), it’s around $15,000 a year. Times 4. Roughly $60,000 for your Bachelor’s degree. Not a pretty picture, huh? Community college usually costs $0 all two years for kids who come from poor families and maybe $2,000 – $5,000 per year for middle and upper-class students. I don’t know about you, but a four-digit number is better than one that’s five or six in this case.

3. Exposure

At a private or state university, you won’t get exposed to a lot of people who come from very different backgrounds and life stories. You will be secluded in a niche, afraid to talk to people who don’t come from your socioeconomic class or are twenty years older and decided to come back to school. Your friends will be like cookie cutters of you and you will be pretty ignorant about other people’s lives and cultures. Community college has so many people: teenagers, senior citizens, all the ethnicities and religions that you can imagine, math prodigies, future doctors, criminal trial lawyers, writers, dropouts, people who are working, taking care of their kids, and in school full time.

Emma Lazarus wrote, we are the “huddled masses yearning to breathe free” and we are a melting pot of cultures. We deserve the same opportunity as rich kids at rich universities because we are not worse and a school label doesn’t define us. Many of us didn’t have money for tutors. We are people, not numbers or the three or four letters of an institution.

4. Associate’s Degree.

A lot of community colleges offer an Associate’s degree. Usually, the requirements are 60+ units and specific classes under your belt. Such a degree not only looks good on a resume when you are in the middle of attending a university and searching for internships, but it will also help you out during your Master’s degree application (if you want to apply). Who doesn’t like a 19 or 20-year-old already with some sort of a degree? It shows your dedication, hard work, and commitment.

5. Smaller Classes & Ability to Knock Out all the Lower Division Classes.

UCLA has 100+ students in its freshman and sophomore year classes. It’s pretty insane. At my community college, many of the classes consist of 30 or fewer people. In California, community college gives you direct transferring paths to UCs (excluding UC Berkeley and UCLA) and allows you to take all the lower division coursework, including IGETC (The Intersegmental General Education Transfer Curriculum) too. In other words, it’s general education. It’s these small, miscellaneous classes that must all be fulfilled or else you won’t be able to graduate university. They usually cost a lot of money in private and state schools (same price as all the coursework required for your major).

6. Last Point.

Starting at a community college grounds you and it works like a prison. If you are willing to get out, you will. If you aren’t, you won’t. It teaches you survival, which most universities with their frat parties, drinking, and privileged kids living on mommy’s paychecks don’t. It teaches you how to be humble and stand up for yourself and others. It teaches you life and its brutal reality of having to balance school, work, and taking care of your family.

I say what I say. I know that I know nothing but despite the burden of uncertainty, I like to live, to read, to write, and to marvel mathematics. I like to have fun. I am also a Cynic with some Stoicism flowing through my veins, a double major in English & Applied Mathematics, an introverted extrovert, a lover of philosophy, and someone who may question her existence, reality, your existence, the concept of time, and the good and the bad. Overall though, I am pretty chill.

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