Well, that depends. Many variables go into making the all-important college decision. Most of all, the question at the heart of the answer lies in your academic, social and financial reality, along with your aspirations. Are you a student that might not have it all figured out right now but know that you want to do something grand with your life? Are you realistic with what you may be striving for, or are you shooting for someone else’s dream? Because nine times out of 10, you may be wasting your time if your heart isn’t 100% committed to it. Do you know in your heart that you will be a doctor or lawyer or some other profession that is going to require six or more years of schooling? Do you have a financial hardship that may make it impossible for you to pursue that reality? If so, then community college could be a good fit for you to get some of your general education requirements out of the way for less money. Then you could move on to a College or University once you get into your more specialized classes. The great thing is nowadays, attending community college doesn’t have to mean staying at home and missing out on the “college experience.” For every college student out there, there are just as many maturation, financial, geographical reasons for pursuing your degree at a community college or far from home. And if you do decide to go far from home, you may also find yourself taking classes at both the community college and university. One student of mine is doing just that at the University of Hawaii at Hilo until she gains residency status to offset the out-of-state tuition price tag. Another student was just shy of getting into the program she wished to enter at the University of Illinois at Champaign. The university had a program that allowed her to take classes at Parkland, the community college in the neighboring town, for her first year. Then segue with all of her credits intact into the program of her choice, again, with a lower price tag than if she attended U of I for her Freshman term.
And finally, another student of mine whom I found a bit challenging because it was like trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. The schools and majors of her mother’s wishes were not her own, and every meeting with both of them brought about frustration and dead-end planning. When I finally met with the student alone, the truth came out and what was revealed was enlightening. She didn’t want to pursue any of the paths that her mother was pointing her towards. Her grades and interests didn’t fit with those paths either. When we spoke separately, she revealed creative, varied interests of her own that she could pursue at the community college or design or fashion institutes rather than a traditional four-year college.
Whatever is the case for you, listen to your gut. Yes. Sometimes you need to be pushed, and No, at 18, you are not expected to have all the answers, but know yourself. Be confident in your voice that can guide your way, and don’t feel as if you must compete on a stage that isn’t truly yours. Why make it harder to do something or go somewhere when it doesn’t feel 100% right? Because even when it is the right path for you, it will be a long, sometimes difficult road until you feel entirely confident and successful in your chosen field. Know thyself! And good luck!