College can be an enriching experience for anyone. I have attended five colleges over the course of the last 20 years: two public universities (one in California & one in Tennessee), one private university (the California extension campus of a university in Michigan), and two California Community colleges. My majors have included Automotive Technology, Automotive Service Management, Business Administration, Economics, English, Management, Marketing, and Natural Sciences. Each school prepared me for life outside of the classroom in a different way. In the end, my community college experiences have been some of the most impactful on my life.
I was not ready to go to college when I graduated high school. I had no idea what classes to take, or anything else about going to college. It turns out other students feel much the same way. The idea of college can be intimidating. Even when high school prepares a student to learn at the college level, no one teaches a person how to navigate the college admissions process. One school managed to lose the payment for my first classes and dropped me from the rosters. My parents had mailed everything return receipt to the school while I was recovering from an accident. When I learned of their error, I had to drive for over an hour with my bandaged hands to confront the clerks at the registrar’s office. It turned out the envelope had fallen behind a desk. Do not take anything for granted at college; no one is there to hold your hand.
Many community colleges have programs that are every bit as good as the programs at expensive four-year universities. I performed in a production of “Noises Off” while attending Mt. San Antonio College in Walnut, CA. It was a lot of hard work, but it was fun. The cast and crew were serious about their crafts, and we were met with rave reviews. These students were from all walks of life, and I will never forget the life lessons I learned from them.
Instructors at community colleges are often currently working in the fields they teach. This is a great way to learn how a particular industry works in practice, not just in theory. My automotive service management teacher at Cerritos College in Norwalk, CA had owned his own independent service station for many years prior to becoming a teacher. I have made many great business contacts through instructors like him.
Not everyone has their life planned out when they graduate from high school. Community colleges offer an easy and inexpensive opportunity to explore the possibilities. Give it a shot; who knows what you’ll find.