Four-year schools aren’t always the way to go

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Attending a community college never seriously crossed my mind while I was in high school.

I attended a high school that drilled going to college into our brain since day 1 of freshman year.

There was always this negative stigma perpetuated by classmates about community colleges, so many people did not apply to community collegesI was one of them.

I applied to CSUs and an out-of-state school because I knew that’s where I would be able to receive a Bachelor of Arts (BA) in journalism without having to take classes that weren’t related to my major, unlike at UCs.

Although I knew that I would not receive any money from FAFSA, I still decided that I would go to a four-year university after graduating from high school.

My first choice was San Diego State University, but I was not admitted.

I was accepted to California State University, Northridge only to realize it was too expensive. That led me to my third choice University of Hawai’i at Mānoa, which I was also accepted too.

So, in the fall of 2016, I set my mind on attending the UH Mānoa because it was cheaper than going to CSUN.

Also, none of my classmates would be attending UH and I’d be living in Hawai’i—who wouldn’t want that?

UH Mānoa was great until I reached my second semester there and I took my first two journalism courses.

My first journalism classes were being taught by the same professor that had no experience in teaching journalism at the college level and had little to no certainty in what he taught—all he did was confuse me.

After sitting through the first few classes of the journalism courses, I knew that that wasn’t where I was supposed to be.

Thinking about all of the money my parents spent to send me to UH is what kept me there, but I also didn’t know how to tell my parents that I wanted to come home. I felt so embarrassed and I felt like a failure.

Going to class became a chore; my grades began to suffer and that took a toll on my mental health.

Just three weeks before the end of the spring semester, I had my biggest mental breakdown after yet another non-productive day in my journalism 1 class.

I was on a flight home two days later.

Coming home was the best decision I could have made for myself and for my education; I just wished I would’ve done it sooner.

I decided to take a year off to really figure out what I wanted to do with my life and, after a year of feeling lost, I realized that the only thing that interested me was still journalism.

I knew that if I ever wanted to be successful in the journalism field I would have to go back to school and get a degree.

Still feeling a little embarrassed about leaving UH, I hesitantly applied to El Camino College to begin classes in the fall of 2018.

I am currently in my second semester here at EC and I can confidently say that this is where I know I should be and this is where I want to be.

I am doing more and learning more here in the journalism department than I probably would have ever done or learned at UH.

Seeing how some of my close friends are approaching their final year in college while I still have a few years to go until I graduate makes me think about how far ahead I would have been if I would have just started at a community college and transferred to a four-year university.

The time it takes to complete a BA differentiates from person to person, but the average time it takes to complete a BA when beginning your college education at a community college is 6 years.

“BA completion varies by type of 4-year institution. Of students who transfer to four-year public institutions (73 percent of all transfers), 42 percent complete a BA within six years of starting at a community college,” according to Community College Research Center.

I am behind on where I should be compared to people that graduated with me, but I am more focused than ever and I am one step closer to reaching my goal of completing my BA.

Dropping out of UH was a lesson learned, but I hope that people do not have to go through what I went through to realize there is nothing wrong with attending a community college.

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