I Said ‘No’ to Uni After High School and ‘Yes’ to Community College

It’s that time of the year again. It’s 2020, and although many of us are inside our homes and following social distancing guidelines, a lot of high school seniors are faced with the all-too famous question: where do I go from here?

Planners and Journals: The Holy Grail for Productivity

Looking back at my own senior year, I feel nostalgic: I remember all the memories I made with my friends and my teachers. As seniors we all realized that we were about to embark on our own separate journeys, and enter another chapter of our lives. How many of us would keep in touch?

Of course, that’s not the only thing I remember. A good portion of that time, like many others, was spent filling out applications to universities and channeling worried thoughts toward deciding where to pursue my postsecondary education.

My story had its own ups and downs through a complete zigzag of choices. While it isn’t unique in its entirety, I wanted to share my own experience with choosing community college, with the hopes of sparking this idea in those who are reading this and are thinking of what to do next.

The Start of Something New

In general, the thought of going to community college never really crossed my mind. I’ll admit, a part of me decided to apply because I wanted to receive another acceptance letter in the mail.

During my last month of high school I had everything lined up to go to university. National Decision Day had passed, and I committed to my first choice. I even went to new student orientation over the summer, and registered for my fall classes. I was more than ready for the first day of school.

The only thing left for me to cross off my checklist was to fix my last problem — where would I live?

My university was too far from my hometown for me to commute from everyday, and I was hesitant to live in an apartment in a new city all by myself at the age of 17. Believe it or not, I was a pretty shy person throughout high school.

After many phone calls and e-mails, I was ultimately told by my school that I wouldn’t be allowed to live in a dorm because my school didn’t want to be responsible in case something happened to me, a minor.

A lot of emotions rushed through me during that time. Friends were moving to different cities and states, packing up new things for their dorm. They were all ready to live on their own for the first time, begin their career, and live the “college life” that was ever so popular in movies that I’d seen growing up. I was so eager to have that experience as well. I felt like I was about to be left behind and I’d never get the chance to make it up.

A Trip for Inspiration, A Change in Thinking

Despite everything that was running through my mind, I had put these thoughts aside when I went on a trip with my family that summer to the Philippines. It was the first time in 14 years that we were able to save up, go back to my parents’ home country, and meet family. While this is a story for another time, this trip made me realize how big the world really is, and how much I really didn’t know. I came back with a new perspective on my life.

Going for Something Completely Different

During the last two weeks before school I thought about whether going to university would still be the best decision for me at that time. I had no means of getting to school and had nowhere nearby to live. I’m a big believer of things happening for a reason, and a part of me had thought that maybe it just wasn’t my time to go to university yet. I was hesitant at first. What would I be giving up? My year will definitely be different from what I was expecting.

Through my change of heart, I found that what had once been a major roadblock turned out to be one of the best opportunities I’ve had in my life. I made the decision to withdraw my acceptance and register for classes at my local community college.

Why I Chose Community College

Here’s why I eventually knew that community college was for me (and why I went to CC before university):

  1. Tuition was thousands of dollars cheaper. The cost of my entire semester would be similar to that of one credit hour at university. I also received a scholarship, so a majority of my classes were free (yes, FREE). At 17 I didn’t really know how to manage my finances well, but I knew that minimizing student loans as much as possible was definitely something that I needed to do.
  2. I was still on track to finish my general education courses before transferring to a university to complete my Bachelor’s degree. My state has an agreement with some universities that if you receive an Associate’s degree it will be granted as general education completion. So when you transfer to uni, you get to focus on your major courses.
  3. Overall, I had more time to focus and think about what I really wanted to study without spending a lot of money.

To be honest, a part of me wanted to leave home but another side of me was hesitant to start an adventure on my own. I know that a lot of people have their own situations and I’m very thankful for my family supporting my decision at that time. I wanted to make sure to myself that what I decided to do would be in my best interest for the future. And I’ve never looked back ever since.

When I walked into the Admissions Office that summer I felt something deep down that was calling me and made me feel that I was going in the right direction.

School is an investment in your future, and it’s also an expensive investment. With increasing tuition costs, a lot of students are finding themselves in growing student loan debt (me, included). No one is perfect, and everyone’s always working towards figuring out what they really want to do. You don’t have to spend a lot of money to grow into yourself. Focus on what it is that you want to accomplish, and try not to stress out about it too much.

Although I started in community college, I still paved my own way toward completing my undergraduate degree at that same university.

It doesn’t matter where you start, as long as you know where you’re going. What really matters is your perspective, and how you make the most of the cards you’ve been dealt. If there’s something important to you, you’ll find a way to make sure that it happens.

always learning