Special to the CV Weekly
By Junjae LEE
While many of my classmates at Crescenta Valley High School applied to prestigious four-year colleges, I did not apply to any college because I knew I was not yet a competitive candidate for admission. I moved to the United States from South Korea four years ago, in 2015. I was only 15 and needed to improve my grasp of English before applying to four-year colleges like the University of California. For me, attending community college was an excellent choice to experience college-level classes and prepare to transfer to a four-year institution.
Summer is often filled with the concerns of high school graduates including the expenses relating to college tuition or receiving rejection letters from their dream schools. For those attending community college, there are also concerns about negative perceptions surrounding community college. This is due, in part, to the belief by many that they will never end up transferring. However, as a student currently attending Glendale Community College, I have found that transferring is realistic but requires careful planning and a willingness to ask for help. Many community colleges have supportive staff members who will work hard to help students succeed.
For me, by attending a community college, I do not have to worry about the tuition expense of a UC ($10k-$14k for in-state residents) or a private school ($35k-$60k). Community colleges in California exempt all California residents from tuition in their first year, meaning all California residents can obtain free UC-transferable college credit. Community colleges offer various financial aid and scholarship programs, so almost every in-state students can attend college for free until they transfer, assuming students take two years to transfer. There are also many classes that do not require textbooks, an option that saves on the costs of textbooks and material fees. So far, in doing this, I only had to pay less than $50 a semester for textbook costs. Dual enrollment is also available while students attend other schools, which can also reduce tuition costs.
Community colleges also offer many class options and flexible class schedules. Unlike UCs and private schools, community colleges offer about four to five classes with different professors and times per course, especially for popular courses such as English, science and speech. Because of this flexibility in scheduling, while my friends who went to UCs and USC stress over scheduling their classes, I do not worry when registering.
Community college is not just a solid option financially, it is also a great institution for students to mature while allowing a chance to “figure things out.” Before obligating themselves to a four-year college, I urge students to also consider community college.