By Vaneza Paredes
If someone had told me that I would attend my local community college after I graduated high school, I would have probably replied that they had officially lost their mind. After going to a private school from kindergarten to the end of my senior year in high school, I had been pushed and held at an exceedingly high academic standard. Community college was not even an option suggested by any of the counselors at my private high school. It wasn’t that they thought it was bad, but they certainly assumed that I was far more capable, equipped and ready to be pushed academically at a private university, or state school. And at the time, I had agreed with them.
I was accepted to a private university in San Francisco, and had received an extremely generous scholarship. But after overcoming personal health battles, and deciding that San Francisco wasn’t the place for me, I moved back home to Los Angeles, and made the decision to enroll in my local community city college. And honestly, it was the best thing I have ever done.
Community college is cheap.
While my family and friends were racking up their student loan debts, my total bill per semester came out to a whopping $30. This meant could pay for my parking permit, textbooks and tuition bill all for around $100. Not bad if you ask me.
My classes were extremely small.
My professor took roll every day, and took points if we weren’t there—an anomaly situation to my friend who was stuck in massive lecture halls all day. I personally couldn’t learn best in a room full of 300 people, so this was a great help to me academically.
I had the most amazing professors.
Every community college professor I encountered genuinely loved their job and the college they were working for. I had a professor call me on the phone once for being absent and not emailing her beforehand. I had a music professor who brought her colossal harp up six floors by herself just to perform classical music for us. I had a professor who took us to Hollywood to see a live taping of The Doctors, and we all received free gifts.
I learned who I really was.
Jumping from major to major at the start of college, I couldn’t settle on what I had wanted to study. One day, as I was walking along the hall to my class, I noticed a flyer advertising a paid teaching internship at a top private elementary school nearby. I applied, and was lucky enough to get the job. It was though that internship that I fell in love with teaching, and discovered my passion for working with young children. If I hadn’t gone to my local community college, I wouldn’t have had that internship, which has opened so many doors for me.
Going to community college changed my life. It humbled me, and opened my eyes in so many ways. I am now transferring to a private university nearby, and am beyond excited and ready for the new journey that awaits me. It might not have been my ideal "plan," but it all worked out for the very best.