By: Meghan Lupo, Student Author
When you think about the “ideal” college experience you probably think about the things you’ve seen in movies. Going away to a four-year college, looking for your residence hall, what to take with you and decorating your room, and, of course, tailgating at games. The truth is, not all of us choose to go away right off that bat. I was one of those people. I chose to attend a local community college first. It was a hard decision, but so many factors played a part in figuring out what was right for me. The best part was, I still got to have a college experience. I now attend a four-year college. Yes, the two are completely different, but I truly enjoyed the time I spent at both.
Why choose a community college?
When I think back to the factors that impacted my decision to go away or stay home, I remember considering finances, housing, friends, the experience, and most importantly what was going to be best for my future. At eighteen I really wasn’t sure what I wanted to spend the rest of my life doing, but I knew I wanted to go to college and figure it out along the way. That was the first indicator that made me believe community college was the best option for me. I mean why spend more money for your gen eds when you can pay significantly less, work, and save money. Another huge factor was proximity, I only lived about fifteen minutes away from my community college so instead of paying for housing, I was able to stay home. Hence, saving more money. Lastly, sports, at the time I was being recruited to play soccer for several different colleges. Some were in state, some out of state, but ultimately, I decided to play at my community college. It seemed almost too good to be true, I could stay home with my family, save money, and play the sport I loved while also getting a scholarship. Today, if I could go back and decide again whether to go away or stay home, hands down I would have made the same decision.
The truth about community colleges
Let me first preface this with saying that not all community colleges are the same. If yours is anything like mine, there are some benefits, as well as downfalls no matter where you go. Starting off, I had an easy time meeting friends for two reasons. One, I was on the soccer team so I met a lot of athletes not just from my team but the other teams that played at my school and we all got along. So, on the weekends we would hangout, volunteer together, and cheer each other on at our games. Second, my community college was just down the road from a four-year University. So many of the athletes I played with knew other students at that school. If I didn’t have that experience, playing a sport at my community college it would’ve definitely been a lot harder to make friends. Unlike a four-year college, most of the students who attend local community colleges have jobs, families, and other commitments that consume their time. Also, my community college didn’t have housing so after class everyone went home.
Teachers and smaller class sizes
One of my absolute favorite parts about my school was the teachers. Each one was different in their own way, but the one thing that was consistent in each classroom was their dedication to their students. In high school, I always remember being told that in college teachers aren’t going to help you, and it’s a completely different atmosphere but at a community college classrooms are similar to ones in high school. With about thirty kids in each class, teachers have the time to talk to you, help you with your questions, and work with you outside of class.
Honestly, community colleges aren’t like the stereotypes people associate them with. They definitely fall short of some of the perks that a four-year university can provide, but there are also many benefits that you’ll recognize throughout your experience. Take into consideration your goals, plans, and what you want to accomplish in the next four years of school. If you’re not 100% sure about what you want to study, community colleges are a great place to start. Most community colleges offer transfer programs that will help you easily transition into a major university. No matter what your decision, take the time to research community colleges and weigh your options because at the end of the day only you know what’s best for you!
Meghan Lupo is a senior currently enrolled at Northwood University where she is pursuing her bachelor’s degree in Business administration with a major in Marketing. Throughout her college career she was hesitant about solidifying her decision to pursue business, but the decision became very easy after a few business classes that left a lasting impression on her. As a student-athlete, mentor, and someone who has experienced the trials and tribulations college entails she is ecstatic to be a part of our team and share her journey with others in order to help them grow, excel, and enjoy all that college has to offer.