Nov 28, 2017
The Transfer Diaries: Why Community College?
By this point, you’re probably familiar with my current status as a full-time, undergraduate student at Brown University. But why do I call myself a transfer student and not just a totally-overwhelmed-swimming-in-homework student? It’s because my story started elsewhere, at Indian River State College, a small community college in my hometown.
Indian River State College was the best option for me at the time, but why? Isn’t that the best question to ask. My answer could be extremely positive and well thought out, family orientated and personally comfortable. But that’s not going to be the full answer. To this day, I don’t know why I didn’t push myself into applying to four year colleges right out of high school. I don’t really know why I felt that I had to stay in my little town. Yes, family was so important and hugely influenced the reason why I stayed home, influenced me almost enough to not apply to transfer at all. Yes, financial situations made a move on my game board at the time. I didn’t have much saved from prior work, and I knew that moving away would be solely on my financial shoulders for both independence and necessity. My hopes and dreams thrived in the idea of venturing to a four year university, of creating my own game board with the players that I chose. My reality at the time lived in a very different game, one where I happily met the expectations of family and friends around me, where I said yes even though sometimes I wanted to shout “You lose. Game over.” Indian River State College was the only option for me during my first years of college. There were no other players to move about because I hadn’t yet let myself live how I had always wanted to. That would come a little later on, two years in fact, when I finally got to clear the board and start again.
Even if the above paragraph doesn’t read as super helpful or happy (welcome to the rollercoaster of life, people), there were deeper moments of gratitude and positivity I gained from attending community college. I promise… those moments existed. I can’t let you all totally down now. Staying close to home allowed for me to remain with family for a bit longer, experiencing moments which have been crucial to my development as a mature and responsible young adult (can I still call myself young?). Let’s be honest, everyone, having mom always close by to talk to and learn from and cook with is the best. #mommasgirlatheart. You know those moments of adult life that high school doesn’t prepare you for? The “oh, how do I write a check and balance my checkbook” or “how much laundry detergent do I put in the machine before it bubbles like a cauldron” or the “oh god, bills?!” Nothing quite prepares you for the smallest and largest of adult things. You just have to go for it, experience it, and hope for the best. However, being home a bit longer taught me exactly how to deal with those moments (and balance my checkbook). Some students moving forward with their life straight out of high school may miss those moments with family to teach them and be taught by them. I was able to experience moments like that where my family, my mom especially, actually taught me how to live on my own and how to be pretty successfully doing that. Stumbling happens all the time where I still have to call my mom in haste and ask her if I can defrost chicken in the microwave. Yet these past few years at home made a world of difference in my maturity level, the ability to care for myself, and the confidence to call home whenever needed. (And that defrosted chicken… it was great.)
I was able to save so much money by attending this school and by living at home. I had no living expenses or bills to take care of every week or grocery shopping to pay for. I was simply a homely female student, saving money at every turn. Financial aid was extremely accessible and generous at the school: I was able to receive enough tuition aid to cover all expenses and, more so, get refund checks with the remainder of my grants. This money was enough to buy my very first car- a little white Kia Rio whom I love dearly and named Mouse. Buying my own car was a bit of a turning point for myself: I finally felt confident enough to begin taking the wheel (insert corny laugh). I had saved for this reason. I was rewarded because of my work and effort. I had a huge accomplishment to show for that. Buying a car for some people may not be quite as ground breaking. For myself, it was the chance to recognize that I could take charge. Sitting behind her little wheel for the first time and driving it home, I felt like superwoman, albeit a follow-the-speed-limit superwoman.
For a lot of students, community colleges are accessible education to get them farther in their studies. Much like myself, students attend for a quality education at a much lower cost, scheduling flexibility, and the ability to live and work at home. Maybe at first, I felt community college was not worth my time. However, every second spent there was worth it for myself as a student and for the many who attend. It all adds up as part of my story, part of my game board, and a crucial moment in my transfer diaries.