The $100,000 Decision

RashidaAndersonTo my friends attending Iowa State University, University of Iowa, University of Northern Iowa, and any other accredited university:

I hope you wake up for class today. I hope your failed alarm clock doesn’t cost your parents an extra ten grand in dropped classes by the end of the semester. I hope every essay deadline is time stamped and prioritized in your oh so superior brain because you literally can’t afford another D.

Maybe you’ve got it all figured out. Perhaps you are dedicated to spending your school time and your parents’ money wisely. But for those of you who feel my dedication is any less than yours, I send all my luck to you. I won’t need it; I’m going to community college. Sure, I still have to work hard, manage my time well, and go to class just like you, but trust me; I’ve got the upper hand.

Graduating high school, I knew exactly what field I wanted to go into and immediately began developing a plan to get there. Unfortunately, I also knew that the increasing cost of college would serve as a significant barrier to my academic successes. Finding a way to follow my dreams at a reasonable cost was my first priority as I stepped into my newfound adulthood.

According to some, however, cutting the cost of my education and attending a community college prior to university, was more of an identifier of weakness than financial literacy.

“You go to DMACC?” That’s a simple, judgment-free question, which demonstrates genuine curiosity, right?

When people ask me where I go to school, I often hope for that kind of curiosity, yet that’s not how they say it. When friends of mine who attend universities ask, “You go to DMACC?” they make sure to emphasize the apparently lower-status community college I’ve chosen.

Most people’s negative opinions of community college honestly twist in my mind. Why is it such a bad thing to want my teacher to know my name? Have fun trying to get feedback from your instructor if you attend a large university; I bet she doesn’t even know you missed each of last week’s lectures. Why should I spend $100,000 on a piece of paper that may or may not get me a job 30 years down the line, anyway? What if I don’t know what I want that piece of paper to say? I want to know where I’m going, what I love, and what inspires me before I dump $30,000 into it.

And to all of you community college students, be proud! Your parents just helped chop off $15,000 of college debt. Whether you transfer or not doesn’t even matter, you have made a good financial, academic decision to advance your personal and professional life.

Besides, you only have to peek around three giant heads as opposed to 300 in a lecture hall to see the power point. Rejoice! While the parking lot may seem full, it never actually is!

Community college is the choice of the thoughtful student, the person who thinks ahead rather than jumps on the bandwagon as soon as it arrives. Do yourself a favor, oh wise one, and pat yourself on the back because you just reduced your level of stress for two years.

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