The choice to go to community college has become more and more widespread. This is due to the many benefits that they offer: low cost, smaller classes, etc. However, there are many aspects to going to a community college that you wouldn’t understand unless you went to a community college. Since I couldn’t find enough satisfactory stock photos, I’m going to use videos instead.
1. Transferring is a Huge Pain
Trying to figure out classes you need to take to transfer to the school you want and graduate on time is nothing short of a wild goose chase. Not only do you have to look out for what your community college requires but also what the colleges you’re applying to require. Even if you do that, there’s still a chance your community college doesn’t offer the equivalent course and, if it does, it may not transfer because the course objectives don’t match.
2. You Have Two “Freshman” Years
You may be asking, “What do you mean by two ‘freshman’ years?” Well, the first one is your first year at community college. You’re taking college-level classes with college-level expectations and you’re adjusting to a new lifestyle. The second one is your first year after you transfer. Expectations may be different and you’re adjusting to yet another lifestyle. You’re also getting introduced to your university for the first time, making it really hard to not feel like a freshman.
3. You Should Never Take Study Rooms for Granted
Back when I was at NVCC, there was always a place to study and a study room to occupy. However, once I got to JMU, I realized that study rooms are a finite resource. If you are still at community college, don’t take study rooms for granted. You’ll regret it when you transfer to a school with a big population.
4. It is Not Like “Community”
By now, you’ve probably noticed I’ve been using clips from the show “Community”. If you haven’t heard of “Community”, it’s a show about a study group and its various misadventures throughout community college. While it’s fun to imagine community college as a series of “easy A” classes and zany adventures, it is nothing like that. It’s hard work and can be boring just like a university.
5. Some Classes Are Actually Challenging…
One of the biggest misconceptions of community college is that the classes are easy and that you can do well in them with minimal effort. If you are attending an accredited community college, chances are your school has difficult classes taught by difficult teachers. My Accounting and Spanish professors at NVCC gave more homework than any other teacher I’ve had in my life and still expected us to understand the material 100%.
6. But People Treat It Like A Joke
If you’re a community college student, you’ve probably heard countless jokes about how community college is high school 2.0 or how similar it is to prison (“What’re you in for?” and “When’re you getting out?”). You’ve probably made some of these jokes yourself. There’s no denying that they’re hilarious but, based on these jokes, it’s easy to tell that community colleges are on the bottom of the totem pole, no matter how good they are.
7. It’s Hard to Build a Social Life But Not Impossible
It is very unlikely that a community college will provide housing for its students, making every student a commuter student. This puts a serious damper on your social life. However, it’s not impossible to make friends. Every friend I’ve made in community college I’ve made through joining clubs, studying in groups, or even just being on campus all day.
8. Community College is a Second Chance
For the sake of not appearing preachy, here’s a lightbulb joke:
Q: How many community college students does it take to change a lightbulb?
A: None. They all got a D- in that in high school.
In all seriousness though, community college offers a second chance for anybody who didn’t apply themselves in high school or anybody who didn’t go to college straight out of high school. You can just apply to community college, do well in one of the programs there, and transfer to a four-year in one or two years.
9. Community College May Be the Best First Step
Community college isn’t just for the slackers. It’s also for people who want to save money or want to test out classes at a community college first. Spending two years at community college and then transferring is a great way to save money. Attending a community college first also minimizes risk. If you crash and burn at a community college, you won’t be out a large sum of money and you still have a chance to fix your mistakes and get into a good school.
Trent Burgos is a James Madison University student majoring in Accounting and minoring in Computer Information Systems and Spanish. He writes for College Mastermind regularly on the topics of study tips, college life, and food. Both Hispanic and Caucasian, his mixed background has fueled his passion for other cultures and the global marketplace.