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Have you ever been told that you are not enough and, therefore, incapable of achieving your dreams?

When I immigrated to this country, I did not know English. To make matters worse, I had just started my first (and last) year at an American high school. It was my senior year, and college application season was approaching. 

Despite this, I was very optimistic. I wanted to go to college. However, after taking a test where I only knew where to put my name, my world came crashing down. How was I going to get into college if I did not understand anything?

In search of a solution, I decided to visit my counselor. And once again, my world collapsed. She told me: “No inglés, no college. Trabaja en Español” (No English, no college. Find work in Spanish”). I then asked her about community college. This time, her answer was even worse: “No, no, malo, no. Trabaja” (No, no, it’s bad. Just find a job).  

I’d be lying if I said I didn’t lose faith. I thought I was doomed. No prestigious university would accept me and community college “was not good.” But a week later, my mindset changed. Although my counselor was not supportive, three of my teachers were able to motivate me to follow my dreams by enrolling at a community college. 

“You can do it,” were their words. “There is more than one path.”

Oh, how right they were. 

After three amazing years full of ups and downs, I can proudly say that going to a community college was the best decision I ever made. I met my closest friends, and with the support of my family, I transferred to UC Berkeley. Ironic, huh? 

However, my story is not uncommon. I am not the only “miraculous” case of a student who succeeded academically by going to a community college. 

According to an article published by UC Berkeley, for Fall 2021, 22% of transfer applicants were offered admission. Transfer students are being accepted in record numbers to multiple, if not all, universities. 

Sorry to break it to you, but the stigma surrounding community colleges is pathetic and an excuse for educational elitism to exist.

There is no set path to success, it is you who paves your own way.

Community college is not a place where people without a future go. Rather, it is a place where people who were told they had no future find success. To prove this, I have collected the opinions of various transfer students regarding their experiences. I believe that facts speak louder than words and their testimonials serve as evidence of the opportunities community colleges offer. 

Financial Stress Relief

Education is so expensive. Tuition, fees, living arrangements, food, books – the list seems to go on forever. Not everyone has the same financial situation. One of my friends was homeless and our community college helped him overcome his situation. How is he now? Doing pretty good at UCLA. 

Learning Opportunities

I am not the only student who struggled. Many students struggle with issues relating to their socioeconomic status, family dynamics, language barriers, and systematic disadvantages. Community colleges allow students to catch up academically at their own rhythm. 

Support System

One of the biggest advantages of community college is how helpful and caring professors are. They want students to excel. Many of them even share their stories of overcoming their own barriers, proving that there is no single path to success. 

Life Happens and That is Okay

Just because we’re going to college doesn’t mean life stops and is easy for us. Life is hard sometimes. Some students are the sole breadwinner for their families, some are first-generation students, and others are just on their own. We all have a different cross to bear, but that’s okay. Despite the difficulties that may put our mental health to the test, there will always be someone who can help you or connect you with a resource or program to help you succeed. 

Time Management Skills

Whether you go right after high school or later on, college can be tough to adjust to. Lectures are challenging and time-consuming, group assignments require organization, and projects require both. Community college provides students with the opportunity to learn time management skills and more while facing life’s challenges. 

Transfer Benefits

Have you ever heard that transferring to a prestigious university is easier than getting in as a freshman? Although I’m not sure of the statistics of this, I think transfers have more benefits. My two favorites are the Transfer Admission Guarantee (TAG) and the Honors Program, which both were pretty appealing to me.

Community college is a great and overlooked opportunity that, rather than being looked down upon, should be considered as a great option for students. It’s time to face reality. Transfer students have many benefits, stress way less, save a lot of money, and all while graduating with the same degree as their classmates who got in as freshmen. 

The stigma around community college is nothing more than a barrier that prevents millions of students from pursuing higher education. And we have to break it. Now.

Alondra is a Peruvian Junior transfer at UC Berkeley, majoring in Film and Media Studies with a minor in Journalism. Passionate about the arts, traveling, and women empowerment; you can find her either enjoying hot chocolate while drawing, or out for an adventure to write about.
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