When I told my best friend in high school that I wanted to attend a community college instead of the Cal State I was accepted to, I was met with anger.
“Why would you want to attend a community college, Pegah? You’ll regret it. You won’t transfer in two years. You’ll hate being there.”
I was going to reply to her, to tell her that I thought community college was going to be a very good idea: I would save a ton of money, I could have a second chance at applying to more schools once it was time to transfer, and I could start my educational career with a clean slate. But I was quickly cut off from her eagerness to try to persuade me to go to a four-year institution instead.
“You have too much potential to attend a community college.”
Even though I appreciated the fact that my best friend knew I was a hard working student, I was still offended. In her eyes, only students with no potential would attend community colleges. Students who didn’t care about education, about their grades, about their future. Only “dumb” people attended community college.
Yet I knew her perception of community colleges was not uncommon. Maybe I was hanging out with the wrong people, but all of them had a neutral or dismissive attitude towards community college.
They didn’t believe community college could produce students who would become successful later on in their lives, whether it was successful on an academic, professional, or personal level.
Obviously, their perceptions were not true. Not in the slightest. Little did they know that in some cases, individuals who attend a community college and successfully obtain their associate’s degree go on to make the same salary as student with a bachelor’s degree. Little did they know that the transfer process to a UC, like UCLA, is competitive like it is in high school. And most importantly, students who transfer from a community college to a four-year college save a ton of money on tuition.
Personally, if I had never made the decision to go to a community college, I wouldn’t be here at UCLA right now. If I hadn’t made the decision to attend a community college, I would not have had the impactful experiences, or met the extraordinarily helpful staff, and caring professors that I met at my local college.
Community college students are just as hardworking as any other student who goes to a four-year college. Deciding to go to a community college is never a “dumb” choice that only “dumb” people make. One should never feel embarrassed to state if they are attending a community college.
Be proud! Own it. You’ve made an extremely smart choice.