All through high school I had my heart set on going to a 4-year university. It seemed like the only natural path: graduating, well, meant graduating, graduating to something bigger and better. I was all prepared. My Pinterest was full of dorm room ideas. I already knew what I wanted to buy 8 months in advance (if you know me, this isn’t a shocker!) and exactly how I wanted to decorate. I desperately wanted the feeling of freaking out due to the ratio of clothes to closet space being out of proportion. I dreamed of wearing adorable matching outfits with my sorority sisters. And most of all, I wanted to start a totally new chapter in my life.
Yet, I’m still here, in town, at home, where I started, going to community college. Yes, I know, this is hardly a calamity, like Zika, ISIS, or binge-watching 9 hours of your fav show on Netflix only to find out the final season is missing (NO!!), but to me at the time, the idea of delaying the whole formal, full-time “College Experience” seemed like the end of the world.
As a student who plans to pay for college myself, it is just not prudent to graduate with a bachelor’s degree & $120,000 in debt (nope, not a typo). My major is very specific, and because few schools in the country offer it, those schools arealso more expensive. Anything I can do to cut my loans in half is a total GO. When I reach age 22, I don’t want to be stressing about my $800 monthly student loan bill. Heck, I’m going to be worried about finding a job! I want my biggest “worry” to be what room I get in the apartment I rent with my friends, not the debt crippling my young adulthood.
Seriously, looking at long-term effects of student loans pretty much made me see things in a different way. I had read an article that said most couples have to put off their wedding and even the idea of starting a family, sometimes for years, all due to their college debt (how could that not totally freak you out!!).
Still, even knowing this logically, I still dragged my feet to the first day of college . . . dreading that day for 3 months before it arrived. To make matters worse, my first professor in my first college class was SO RUDE, so I dropped the class that day. I then got to my 2nd class only to discover 10 minutes into the lecture that I’M IN THE WRONG CLASS!! Great first day, right?!?!
But as horrible as it all seemed at the time, amid all the tears and bellyaching that my Dad had to put up with, I survived, just like my Dad said I would, and now, months into this experience, the perks of community college are more evident then ever:
- SAVING $$$ — obvious. I am not full-force on the #brokecollegestudentlife (Thank God, because my shopping addiction is OC), and the experience has forced me to think about finances in ways that many college students don’t do until only after graduation.
- Thinking about finances has made me a more frugal, and more intelligent, shopper, and that’s always a good thing.
- Although the social life on campus is nearly non-existent, YOU. WILL. MAKE. FRIENDS…believe it or not.
- Although I have never been the type to get “homesick,” leaving my family and community would have been super difficult. (If you follow me on snapchat *Ceciliapappas,* you know I am always watching kids for several families a week. Leaving them would have been heartbreaking).
- I actually find time for the gym and to relax, HOLLA!
- I have been focusing more on myself & I’m LOVING it. I definitely see myself evolving in ways I didn’t expect. My independence has skyrocketed…which is ironic, given the fact that I’m still at home.
- AND of course, due to the glamorous community college life *WINK WINK*, I have found time to start this blog and spread my young entrepreneurial wings!
Everyone told me, “Community College is what you make of it,” & I’m finally starting to see that prove true. If I had the opportunity to be at a university, I would snatch it up in a heart beat. Watching some of my best friends (who are awayfrom home) make other lifelong friends & amazing memories without me is beyond difficult—it’s hard not to be jealous. But in reality, Community College can be rewarding too, because it’s the smart choice for many people like me, and being smart is seldom the wrong move.
Trust me, it has its perks…
(Photos by Lisa Fergus)