Transitioning from high school to community college, students find their niche

Shannon Bodeau / Aragon Outlook

Studies show that community colleges are becoming increasingly popular these days. Due to the economic recession, many families can’t afford college tuition. Since students still want to get a good education, they enroll in a community college. Community colleges not only save a lot of money, but also allow students to transition smoothly from high school to college.

One reason many students choose to enroll in community colleges is to gain experience. Some students don’t like the idea of being so far from home, so they enroll in nearby community colleges; they can still get the education they want while living in the comfort of their home. Senior Erika Talbot claims, “One of the benefits of attending a community college is staying close to family and friends that are also staying. When I go to CSM, chances are I will know a lot of the students there because they also went to Aragon. I also plan on getting a job nearby, because I know San Mateo really well and I want to stay very busy.”

Senior Nicole Gilbert agrees, stating, “The transition from high school to college will be much easier.”

Nicole Yue, a freshman at CSM, adds, “Going to a community college allows you more time to decide on a major, and allows you more time to focus on other activities outside of school. However, you don’t experience the independence of living on your own, and it feels a bit lonely because a lot of your classmates are at UC’s or out of town.”

Another popular reason that students decide to go to community colleges are expenses. Recent studies show that tuition and fees have risen more than 8% at U.S. public colleges as a consequence of the economic recession. Students who have graduated from high school and are unable to afford the price of tuition can choose to enroll in a community college free of charge. They just need to pay for textbooks and materials. Phillip Choi, a current freshman at CSM, says, “The greatest advantage of attending a community college is money. From tuition to living to food and transportation, going to a junior college is simply much cheaper than any university.”

Another benefit is establishing a good relationship with one’s professor. Since community colleges can be small, one could connect better with his teacher. Masa Ota, a freshman at CSM and the Aragon Swim Coach says, “There are some teachers that are engaged and try to help. There is a lot of individual attention in the classroom at CSM compared to a university, so if you have a hard time understanding, some teaches are happy to give you help in office hours.”

However, as a consequence of attending community college, one is unable to take advantage of the full college experience. Talbot says “It’s kind of disappointing that I miss out on the full college experience of not leaving home or meeting new people.” Choi states, “A big con is the fact that many community colleges are commuter schools, meaning that unless you already know a large group of people entering the school with you, there is little time to meet new people.”

Ota agrees, saying, “There is definitely less of a social environment at a community college, which is a major con. Another con is that some teachers treat it like high school. For example, they still take attendance to make sure that no one cuts class.” Sung Jin Moon, a freshman at CSM adds, “You see your parents every day, and it kind of sucks missing out on the dorm life.”

Sharing their experience, Aragon alumni currently attending community colleges express mixed opinions regarding this track to higher education. Ota says, “I chose to go to CSM because I didn’t really have too many other choices. I didn’t really apply to that many schools, so the ones I was left with were just not somewhere I felt like I could stay for a long time. When I finish at CSM, I want to transfer to UCI or a state school. Some challenges that I faced was the lack of motivation.” Yet Choi claims, “Overall, I am enjoying the community college experience immensely. While it has its ups and downs, the people, professors, campus, and the little things in between have offered me a very smooth and exciting transition into this next phase of life.” Current freshman at CSM and last year’s mascot Joel Vazquez adds, “[The experience at a community college] is great and beyond phenomenal. Everyone is so friendly as long as you try to talk to them and get to know them.”

Posted by Isaac Wang

Isaac joined the Outlook in 2011 as a News writer, and switched to Sports in 2013. His passion has always been in playing, watching, and writing about sports. Isaac enjoys playing tennis, cheering for the Dons, and making sandwiches.

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