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Community College 101

Hello Friends!
Community College often has a negative stereotype associated with it. In fact, I never thought I would end up going to a community college because "it was for lazy students" or "I would never transfer out". However, community college changed my whole life and has become a topic that I am passionate about. Words cannot express the love I have for community college, and it has become of the main reasons for why I have started this blog- to help aid others who are fearful of the process.

**Disclaimer** I understand community college is not for everyone, but since there is so much negativity surround C.C. school, I'd love to shine some light on its benefits (;

HAHAHA. All jokes aside, here are my top 10 reasons! 

  1. UC TAG- This is a transfer admission guarantee. That's right- community colleges can actually guarantee that you will be accepted into one of the six participating UC schools. The only requirements are that you have earned 30+ UC transferable units at the time of your TAG application and have a UC transferable GPA of 2.8 - 3.5 or higher (varies by campus). While the common community college myth is that you will be stuck there forever, the UC TAG will ensure that you will be accepted into one UC school of your choice as long as you fulfill the simple requirements. When I first applied in high school, I was rejected to UCI. But in 2 years, I was able to TAG to Irvine and was guaranteed an acceptance letter! For more information, click here. 
  2. Associate Degree- After my first year at a community college, I realized I only needed one more course to receive an Associate Degree (aka AA or AA-T)! Oftentimes, once you finish your GE courses, you are close to qualifying for an AA. Some of these degrees include communications, journalism, political science, math, etc. Click here to see what kind of degrees are offered. In the "real world", AA degrees are not enough to receive amazing job prospects, but they definitely highlight your resume to make you stand out. 
  3. Transfer Agreements- Piggybacking on the previous reason, receiving an AA-T (Associate Degree for Transfer) allows you to have a guarantee to transfer to any Cal State school. ** This only works if you live in California ** You do not have to have the BEST GPA, just a degree to transfer! Keep in mind, not all C.C. schools offer every AA-T degree. So click here to see if your local community college carries the degree for your major.
  4. Saving Money- As a UCLA student, I currently pay $30,000+ a year, but at C.C., I only paid around $6,000 for the two years I was there. That $6,000 included book costs, transportation costs, and tuition! As a student who currently pays for her own college tuition, going to community college is a smarter choice because it definitely saves you a lot of money. 
  5. Exploring Major Options- When I first applied for universities in high school, I was a Marketing/Business Major. But after going to C.C. I realized that I hated math and I never wanted to take a Calculus class ever again. In my two years at C.C., I went from a Marketing Major, to International Development Studies, to Sociology, to Linguistics, and then to Communication. It took me five attempts to realize what I wanted to major in. Going to a C.C. allows for students to easily explore and pick their major. If you are not 100% sure of what you want to major in or what exactly you want to do, don't waste your time/money going to an expensive university.
  6. Smaller Classes- There are no lecture halls in community college. My class sizes typically ranged from 15-30 students each. Smaller classes allows for more productive learning (IMO) and helps with getting to know students to make friends.
  7. Professor Interaction- Because of the smaller class sizes, you receive more personalized attention from professors. Most professors go out of their way to memorize the name of every student and some professors will go the extra mile to buy food and throw class parties! This is probably one of the greatest benefits of going to a C.C. because networking with professors helps with job opportunities and great letter of recommendations. PLUS, these relationships that you build with professors are lifelong friendships and it's great to have someone to go to for "real world" advice.
  8. Living at Home- I personally thought I was missing out on the dorm life (which is not true because I'm dorming right now) and did not want to live at home. But once you leave, you will definitely miss living at home. Mom's cooking is definitely the best food there is. It's the best feeling to walk home knowing the refrigerator is fully stocked with your favorite foods and that your mom has already prepared an amazing meal for you. Did I also mention that your chances of receiving Freshman 15 in community college are slim to none? Win-Win situation!
  9. Smooth Transition- Community Colleges are the best way to transition from high school to university because it is the perfect medium. Classes are still small, you still live at home, and school is based upon a semester system. BUT, you will gain independence because you now have to pick your own classes, schedule appoints with a counselor, go to office hours, etc. PLUS, your parents no longer have access to your grades because report cards and parent teacher conferences are not implemented in community colleges!! (Thank God) !! Personally, I believe that community college is a perfect mixture of high school and university and it will definitely allow for a smoother transition for starting at a university.
  10. Scholarships- Most people choose to not be involved within their community college because they don't see it as a college experience and will thus miss out on many scholarship opportunities. Oftentimes, the application pool for scholarships are so small- making your chances of winning even greater! At Community College, I was able to receive more than $4,000 worth of scholarship money. And, one of my friends received $3,000 his first year. Students who are active in college are practically guaranteed a scholarship offer! 
STILL WORRIED? Here are some popular myths about community college: 
I admit, these myths intimidated me when I first started out in college, but hopefully this guide will ease your worries. Leave me any other myths or popular opinions that you would like reassurance on. I'd be glad to clarify anything.
  1. I won't be able to make friends: It's a common myth that no one wants to be friends with you in college, but this rumor is completely false. After my two years in community college, I found my best friend as well as many lifelong friends. Just because we aren't living altogether in one building, doesn't mean our possibilities of making new friends are reduced. On the contrary, it actually may be easier for some to make friends in community college because your classes are smaller (so you can get to know your peers faster) and because most people are in the same boat as you (to transfer). If you join a club or any extracurricular activity, you are bound to make new friends. Another common myth that pops up after this one is: but my friends are going to other collegesHoney- when you get a job in the "real world", you will start fresh knowing no one in that career. This is a perfect time to gain independence, and build your networking and social skills.
  2. Community College is for stupid/lazy people: This statement could not be more false and is simply a negative stereotype unfortunately surrounding community college students. For me, I chose community college because I could not afford the cost of a 4 year university. Other reasons could range from wanting to save money, to having children, to wanting to transfer to a specific UC school, etc. There are multiple reasons why an individual chooses to start their journey in community college and no one should be judging them for taking a different path towards higher education. If you believe that community college is only for stupid/lazy people, then you'll definitely be shocked when confronting a class full of intelligent/driven students.
  3. I will be stuck there forever: This myth is partially true for those who do not create an academic plan. If you speak with your counselor regularly, work hard on your academics, and show up to class- you should definitely be able to transfer within 2-3 years. Of course, there are students who have stayed in community college for a lengthy amount of time. But, these types of students can be found anywhere- from Harvard to UCLA to Community College. And, working at their own pace to transfer shouldn't be any of our business. If you build an academic plan with your counselor and follow it, you will definitely be able to transfer in within 2 years.
  4. Classes will fill up: Okay... I'll be completely honest. This one may be sort of true. BUT if you were to join an extracurricular activity such as student government, athletics, forensics, choir, etc. then you can receive priority registration. If not, there is always the option to waitlist for a class or to simply take night classes (which are not filled as fast). If you schedule your classes on the registration date assigned, you are definitely going to be able to register for some classes. One thing I'd like to mention though, is that this rumor can be applied to every university across the U.S. This shouldn't be a reason to judge community college, as classes are always impacted in every college/university.
  5. I am now all on my own: There are resources everywhere to assist your transition into community college such as the transfer center, career center,  and honors center. Hundreds of faculty members are always more than willing to assist you in your journey. Unlike high school, community college does not provide faculty members to hold your hand throughout the entire path. But, this independence is a good thing. There are resources if you go and look for them. You will only be on your own if you choose to
  6. Community College is too easy: This reason is similar to reason #2. Is community college harder than Harvard? Most likely not. But is too easy to a point where you would not have to study? No. In my opinion, community college is literally the middle ground between high school and university. If you personally believe your classes are too easy, challenge yourself by taking on more classes, getting another associates, or working more than one job. Perceive community college anyway you'd like- but you use it towards your advantage to help you grow as an individual.
  7. It's too hard to transfer: Refer to the section above where I discuss the UC TAG and Transfer Agreements. The best part about C.C. is that you don't have to be a 4.0 student participating in 500 clubs. As long as you meet the basic requirements needed, you're good to go & guaranteed to transfer. Did I also mention that UCLA took in 25% of their transfer students in 2015? Your odds of being accepted into UCLA as a transfer student are a lot higher than if you were a freshman. *Bonus Tip* : Being in your community college's honors program makes you twice as likely to get in.
  8. Now I'll never get the dorming experience: I'm ashamed to admit, but this reason was actually one of my top reasons for not wanting to go to a community college. I wanted the full college experience and felt that I was missing out by not going to a 4 year university. However, this is also false. As a transfer Junior at UCLA, I still get to dorm, gain weight by eating in the dining commons, and much more! Multiple universities also ensure that the transfer students have an enjoyable experience by still giving them events such as "transfer day" or "welcome week"
  9. No one successful goes to community college: Once again, false. Notable individuals include Clint Eastwood, Walt Disney, and Sarah Palin. For a more extensive list, click here or here. 
Hope this was helpful!
Leave me any questions or comments you may have & I'd be glad to help !

This post first appeared on Clothed By Strength, please read the originial post: here

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Community College 101


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