Going to Community College

Maggie Dunsford, Author

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Whenever I tell people that I’m going to community college first, I get the same response from pretty much everyone. People tell me how smart I am, “too smart,” apparently, to go to a community college. And it’s flattering, sure. I know that I’m a smart person. And that’s one reason why I’m not ashamed to be going to a community college.
I did feel bad about it for a long time. I hang out with a really smart, nerdy crowd. My friends are kind of extremely brilliant. One of my friends grappled between going to Wellesley or Brandies, while another had to chose between CalTech and MIT. My ex boyfriend is going to Cornell. Most of my friends are going away, going to really good schools, where they’ll meet people just as brilliant as they are. And I’m going to Onondaga Community College, where I’ll be commuting. I’m moving back to my dad’s house, where I’ll be sleeping in my childhood bedroom, a room I haven’t occupied since I was 8 years old.
How could I not feel bad about that? I felt bad, and sometimes I still do. But what college you go to does not negate your intelligence, or your worth as a human being. Going to community college is not the end of the world. It does not take away my ambitions or goals. It does not change my career path or the fact that I’m damn good at psychology and at writing. It does not my goal of going to grad school, and, fingers crossed, getting a PhD.
I am no less smart because of my choice of college. I chose to go to OCC first because I don’t have the economic background that many of my friends have. I am not as privileged as some of them. I don’t need to pick the best or the most expensive school to feel good about myself.
I’m excited about college, more excited than I’ve been for anything in a long, long time. I can’t wait to start OCC and to meet amazing, smart people like me. I’m tired of feeling ashamed or less than for going to OCC.
Because of college classes I’ve taken in high school, I’m going to be a sophomore when I enter OCC. I’m planning on only being there a year, and applying to colleges as a transfer after my first semester. One year at OCC is not going to kill me, if anything, it’s going to save me a lot of money and give me more time to think about where I want to go next.
There’s so much stigma surrounding going to community colleges. And I’ve felt it myself. As someone who’s a perfectionist and who prides myself on my intellect, going to community college made me feel like my intelligence was being ripped away from me, that I would never recover from this and would never go to a good school again. And that’s completely stupid.
There’s always a better college, there’s always a new ranking, there’s always going to be things that make you feel not smart enough. I’m done aiming high and then feeling bad when I realize there are still people smarter than I am. My intellect and worth is not determined by my going to OCC. And neither does yours. Wherever you go, do the best you can and you will be fine.

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Going to Community College