Community College Changed My Life

Community College Changed My Life

The following is a personal story from a current college student giving advice to other students regarding her choice to attend community college before enrolling at a four-year university. 

My life was changed by attending community college.

Yep, that’s right: community college.

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You never see any social media posts where people are saying, “I’m excited to announce I will be attending community college after graduation!”  

I did attend community college after graduation, and I was embarrassed to tell my peers because I felt like I would be judged. We need to put an end to the stigma against community colleges, which is the reason I am writing this.

I want to educate others on why community college is beneficial and overall a very smart decision.

 

Community College Is for Smart, Financially Savvy Students

First, let’s start off by addressing the common notion that community college is for those who can’t get into a good four-year university and aren’t as smart.

Let me tell you, this is false.

I met some of the most intelligent people I know while attending community college. Many people attend community college because financially it’s the smartest thing to do.

That’s the reason I attended; I wouldn’t have been able to afford college if I had not attended a community college. I wasn’t receiving assistance from my parents, so this felt like my only option. 

I know a lot of people get caught up in the whole freshman experience at a four-year university. But let me ask you, is that freshman experience worth it when you graduate with a bunch of student loan debt?

Probably not.

Aside from that, students can attend community college and still have the opportunity to attend their dream school afterward.

I am currently studying chemical engineering at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, which is one of the top chemical engineering institutes in the United States.

And guess what? I have no student loan debt. 

 

On-Campus Leadership and Organizations

I began my community college journey for financial reasons, but I quickly found out that there are so many more benefits of attending besides cheap tuition. These additional benefits include small class sizes, leadership opportunities, and community.

With small class sizes, I was able to excel because I built great relationships with my classmates and professors. It was a lot easier to ask questions and get the help I needed because I wasn’t in a class of 100-plus students.

If you go to a large four-year university, I guarantee you will have to take classes with more than 100 people in your first two years. That’s not an environment that promotes learning, and you pay more for it. It doesn’t make sense if you ask me.

While I was in community college, I never had a class with more than 30 students, and it was great.

Did you know that there are extensive leadership opportunities at community colleges? Many community colleges have a lot of clubs and organizations.

Because these schools are typically small, it is quite easy to find leadership roles on campus. This is a great way to build your resume and stand out when you’re applying to transfer schools.

While I attended community college, I served as the president of the engineering club and held a vice president role in the honor society on campus. Serving in these roles built my confidence and made me stand out when I was applying to four-year universities.

Having served in those roles still helps me today when I am applying for scholarships.

 

Motivated and Diverse Classmates

Lastly, I want to talk about the community of community colleges. I met so many amazing people with all sorts of backgrounds, ages, cultures, and passions.

One thing we all had in common was the desire to receive a great education and pursue what we love. I learned so much from the people I met at community college.

They helped shape me into the person I am today. They taught me how to view things from a different perspective and gave me the best advice, especially those with more life experience than me.

I had a classmate who survived the deadly 2010 Haiti earthquake; he was pursuing civil engineering with plans to one day return to Haiti to design better infrastructure.

People like him have changed me.

I am forever grateful for my experience and I can say that I am proud to have attended community college. 

After graduating from Inver Hills Community College, I transferred to the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities where I currently study chemical engineering and computer science.

I have experience in manufacturing, quality, semiconductors, and research and development. I believe that obtaining my Associate of Science degree helped me stand out when applying for internship positions.

Community college allowed me to blossom and grow my confidence. I would not be where I am today if I had not attended community college.

It truly is a gem that many people disregard or look over too quickly. 

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Tatem Rios

Tatem Rios is a junior studying chemical engineering and computer science at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. She works as a research and development intern at Innovative Surface Technologies, Inc. where she helps develop lubricious coating solutions for medical devices. Tatem is an advocate for community college and writes about her experiences to inspire others to take the untraditional path at tatemrios.com.
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