Go to community college

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Leon Nguyen | hnguyen

Community college doesn’t just offer a better price for students looking for a better life, it offers the time to envision what that life might look like.

Walker Armstrong, News Editor

Over the past four years, albeit with the inconsistency of airplane Wi-Fi, I’ve attended community college. I have had the unexpected privilege of attending three different schools, and now, come fall, I will be transferring to a university in Boston. Despite my seemingly nomadic venture through open enrollment education, my overall experience has been anything but unpleasant. In hindsight, some of the fondest memories I have orbit my community college attendance. In my mind, everyone ought to be afforded the same thing. The fact that there is still so much pressure on individuals to fly off to some unfamiliar, expensive four-year university is absurd. Go to community college first, it’s as rewarding and beneficial an experience as it is affordable and smart.

Commodities are adapting to fit shifting cultural values; technologies are altering the way we conduct economic activity and social rituals are adjusting accordingly; and the job market is becoming an increasingly volatile domain. All information that isn’t necessarily breaking news. What is novel and unique to our time, however, are the inordinate costs for what were once basic – almost thoughtless – necessities for our parents’ generation. Elements of life such as housing, health insurance and the need to take out an exorbitant line of credit, create an extremely hostile environment for individuals approaching young adulthood. Moreover, the imperative that one be ushered into a university that issues a mandated time limit to figure out what you want to do for the rest of your life is preposterous and unnecessary.

On the other hand, community college offers a seamless paregoric to this outdated custom. Open enrollment education not only offers the first two years of college at a much more affordable price, it also buys time. The biggest complaint that I heard from friends of mine who went to a university straight out of high school was that they felt rushed. Those four years, while at first might seem to be an eternity, slowly constrict the ability to make use of the resources a university appears to overflow with. Community college has no restrictive element when it comes to time. In my case, for example, I was able to assiduously work through semester after semester, while also navigate my way through a tumultuous personal life; a luxury that a four-year does not cater to. Equally critical, I was able to use the ample time afforded to me in order to cultivate an interest, and in the end, choose a major and a prospective career.

There is an argument against my point, however; and I have seen its effect firsthand. Community college is just another way to get trapped in your hometown, doing nothing, for an indefinite amount of time. Moreover, an experience at a four-year university, fresh out of high school, serves as a unique opportunity to individuals who are used to living under the oppressive yolk of parental and hometown supervision. There is some truth to this. A community college will not be all that different from high school – save the dwindling, jaded social circle. And a four-year university is an easy out.

The other side to this is the reality of taking a population of potentially unstable 18-year-olds and shipping them off to make choices wholly their own, amidst geography wholly unfamiliar. While this method may be a tried and true rite of passage, the fact is, times and people have changed – as noted earlier.

I am not urging people to abuse the time a community college offers, waste money on affordable classes, have no goal in mind and burn out in your hometown. I am not saying settle for an “easier” option. Instead, should you be plagued by anxiety regarding the future, or are unsure about which path to take, then take a breath and consider a healthier option. Community college may not have the aura of a university, but what it lacks in socially constructed prestige it makes up for in time, money and personal well-being.