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Starting Community College In The Fall? Read This

By: Hana Tilksew

girl in library

It’s college decision season. Everyone is talking about the big-name school they’ve committed to, the fun Greek life events they’ll attend, the huge athletic tournaments they’ll get to see ... but you? You’ve decided to go to community college, and now you’re feeling major FOMO.

Maybe you made this decision to avoid a bunch of student loan debt. Maybe you’re not sure what to study and want to take a couple years to figure it out. Whatever the reason, you were sure that this was 100% the best choice for you. But still ... you can’t help feeling like you’re losing what could be the best years of your life at a big university. Is it all in your head? Or is going to community college a choice that you’ll eventually regret?

Firstly, you should always keep your personal circumstances in mind before you compare yourself to your classmates. If your friend won a full ride scholarship to that fancy out-of-state private school, she’s in a much different spot than you would be if you took out six figures in loans to attend the same school. And if you know someone who’s known they wanted to be a doctor since they were five, you’re not somehow “lesser than” for being unsure about your future major or career. Instead of trying to compete with the people around you, focus on competing with your past self. Every day, commit to showing up as a more dedicated, hardworking, and successful version of yourself than you were yesterday. That’s the only kind of competition that will ever be productive.

Secondly, keep in mind that every decision comes with an opportunity cost. If you attend community college, you might miss out on two years of fun memories. But if you

attend a big name school that you can’t afford, you could miss out on financial stability early in your career. If you commit to a major that you’re not sure about, you might graduate with credentials for an industry you have no desire to work in.

The fact that there are downsides to every adult decision you make is scary. Believe me, I know. It’s the scariest part of growing up. How do we discern the path of least regret? How do we figure out what the best choice is?

Consider this: maybe life isn’t about making the best choice. Maybe it’s about taking your choice and making the best of it. So much of our anxiety is the worry that we could have picked better — picked a better school, picked a better job, picked a better partner. The grass always seems to be greener on the other side. We’re convinced that somewhere out there, someone has it better than we do.

Maybe they do, and maybe they don’t. Is it really any of our business? Thinking about what someone else has doesn’t improve your own life in the slightest. It doesn’t even boost your mood — it just makes you grumpy and ungrateful. The next two years of community college are something you should be looking at positively. While you may not get to experience frat parties or March Madness, you’ve been given the gift of time: time to explore what your passion is, time to save up some $$$, time to plan your next move.

And don’t worry, your chance to party in a frat basement and sit courtside at basketball games will come. Your college experience may be delayed right now, but in a few semesters, you’ll transfer out of your local school to a university. Keep your eye on the finish line instead of freaking out over the first few steps. If you lock in during your community college years, you’ll give yourself the best chance of ending up at your top choice university when it’s time to transfer out.

As tough as it is to admit, we become adults the minute we throw our caps in the air at high school graduation. It’s time to make our own choices, and to deal with what comes with them. That means accepting the downsides, but also making the most of the upsides. Life is too short to constantly be looking in the rearview mirror and weighing the what-ifs. What if I’m screwing up? What if I’m missing out? What if I had done this differently?

But what if it all works out just fine? You may not be able to control all the plot points, but only you can write the ending of your own story.

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