Dealing with the stigma surrounding community college

A video published by the Youtube channel “Jubilee” in Sept. explores the differences between going to a Community College versus going to an Ivy League school such as Yale, Harvard, or Princeton. Addressed in the video are disparities felt by both sides in regards to public perception, school spirit and, of course, the price.

As a community college student myself, I have often felt the weight of people’s judgement when they excitedly ask where I go to college, only for their faces to drop when I say community college. This is then followed by a sickly sweet statement about how smart I am for saving money.¬†However, they always want to know where I am planning to transfer to then exhale a sign of relief when I respond with a 4 year college that meets their expectations.

Community college is too often stereotyped as the place where lazy high school graduates go to “waste” years of their life. They are seemingly always staying another year to “finish” their 2 year degree. In reality, community college often takes longer for us because we are working either part time or full time on the side.

Not to say that Ivy League students do not do this, because they often do, but community college offers an unprecidented flexibility to live your life and go to school at the same time.¬†It should not be treated like it is a back-up choice for “real college” drop outs or like it is just a dumping ground for people who couldn’t make it into any other college.

Going to a community college is no doubt a smart decision- and I say that with no resentment- and not just because of the lower cost. When I first arrived, I was crushed to not be going off to live on my own in a cramped dorm room while going to frat parties every weekend to be groped. I felt left out because all my high school friends were celebrating by buying spirited hoodies and matching flags while I was wondering who I would even hang out with when everyone was gone.

I preceeded to switch my major 4 times and accidentally take a ton of wrong classes. But, if I had not taken all those classes then I would have never found what major I truly wanted. My father went to University of California Irvine and knew he hated Psychology from the very first day but couldn’t switch out for fear of having to spend another year (and thousands of dollars) at UCI to take the classes he actually wanted. I, on the other hand, was free to take all the forty six dollar a unit classes I wanted.

My point is, the video above discussed how many of the college students who went to Ivy Leagues heavily identified themselves with the college and had tremendous school spirit. Comunnity college students did not identify with their school, however, and found identity through other aspects such as sexuality, work, or clubs. I for one feel proud that my identity is not so heavily influenced by where I go to school. Instead, it has forced me to focus on my close relationships and also myself as a person. I don’t feel like the world is going to end if I stop going to school. Instead, I feel like I am more prepared for the real world because I have never had that certainty of thinking “I go to a good school and therefore I will get a good job.” I know that I am a good person and that is why I will make myself a good job.