I always wanted my daughter to head straight to a university upon graduation. When she talked more about attending a community college for her first two years, my initial feeling was negative. It seemed ‘less than’ a 4-year and lacked the ‘true experience of college.’
I think attending a community college after graduation seemed second best, reserved for those who couldn’t matriculate directly to a 4-year university. Community college was my only option when I finished high school all those years ago because I lacked the grades and classes required for a 4-year school. I wanted more for her.
I thought that my daughter ‘deserved’ to go to a 4-year school
She had solid SAT scores, plus some AP classes that would serve her well upon college entrance. I had the unrealistic notion that attending a community college needed to be prefaced with an apology as if her choice demanded an explanation.
Her choice to attend community college was my daughter’s best decision when considering her future education, despite my reluctance because of ‘appearances’. And while she was accepted into a university, she decided the wiser move for her future was to start at our local college. I couldn’t be prouder because the reasons for her decision were spot on.
Community college has many benefits
Attending community college has not only proven to be successful for our daughter but has also saved us thousands of dollars.
Thanks to her grades and desire to attend school the fall immediately after graduation, our daughter qualified for a full scholarship our state offers to graduates opting for community college credits. She will be transferring this year both as a junior and debt-free.
She took all the classes she would have taken at a 4-year university, given they are all prerequisites for upper division courses.
Our daughter had flexibility with her schedule. She took both online and in-person classes, allowing her to tailor school to her work schedule with less stress.
She has had more than two more years to mature, acclimate to the rigors of college, and decide whether this was the right path without sinking thousands of dollars into something she wasn’t sure about.
She has saved money by living at home and maintaining a part-time job while attending school.
She has a renewed work ethic from witnessing her hard work pay off.
Smaller class sizes have allowed my daughter to engage with instructors who remember her as more than a student ID number. Thanks to small groups within her classes, she has met friends living similar schedules, offering camaraderie and encouragement.
A traditional 4-year university has a lot to offer, but it’s not for everyone
I’m not saying that attending a university is not a good option or an incredible opportunity. When one thinks of the social opportunities, learning to live with others in a dorm, the excitement of sitting in a lecture hall, a plethora of classes to choose from, and the chance to experience living on one’s own, traditional college offer invaluable life experience. But it’s not for everyone.
Our daughter will begin her junior year with the great life experience of having been an adult in the working world while attending school full time. I think she took the harder route — the one without the fanfare of sororities and dorm parties, the one without a campus experience.
She will not enter her junior year with rose-colored glasses. Instead, she will have the tools to earn her education through sheer determination and hard work. I do not believe she is missing out on a true college experience. I believe she is living a realistic one.
I am not proud of having pushed my daughter toward a 4-year college
I’m not proud of why I wanted my daughter to attend a traditional school immediately. I’ll admit that I was playing the comparison game with other parents and their graduates, the ones who were filling IKEA bags with fall clothes and dorm room decor before making the journey to a new campus while sporting a hoodie depicting their university’s logo.
I am thankful my daughter could see beyond my shallowness and that I learned a humbling lesson because of her. Education comes in many forms, and my daughter’s path has just as much value as any other. That route will help her thrive and never take her schooling for granted.
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