Nothing "Junior" about Junior College

How shamefully attending community college taught me to be proud and successful in and out of a traditional university setting

Photo of Danny Scuderi
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I didn't get into my first choice, and I was devastated. I didn't feel like settling. I also didn't want to go to the junior college down the street from my parents' house while everyone I knew was living the dream in dorms a lifetime away. Eventually, I begrudgingly saw junior college for what it was--a means to an end. Get in, keep it a secret for 2 years, and then finally go to a real college and brag about it. Don't ever mention that middle step. 

What I didn't know was that, aside from saving tens of thousands of dollars, those first two years of college were just as university as any university, but with added benefits. They taught me that I was smart enough for college; I succeeded at the university I graduated to particularly because of the learning I did at community college. They taught me how to foster my educational experience so that I maximized my learning and developed a deep interest in what was to become my major. Most of all, those two years taught me that I didn't need to be embarrassed about being there because I could "do" college. And, I saved a bunch of money.

I thought I was going to a less-than college, but my experience at university showed me that there isn't much difference. Knowing that many at-risk and under-privileged populations see college as unattainable, rebranding community college can go a long way to bringing more students through higher education while building personal and academic skills for success in and out of school.

[Optional] Synthesize a little! In one sentence, describe what you learned from your empathy exercises or analogous research. (Ex: Good advisors make a difference.)

Rebranding community college can help demystify the unattainability of college by creating various points of success.

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Photo of Ellen Deutscher

Danny,  
Thank you for sharing your story.  Interesting to think about the idea of "less-than" college experience at a community college.  Your story along with so many others are examples of the many different paths/journeys that can be taken to get to university, and the straight pipeline directly from high school isn't always the best path.  How might we rethink the "right" path to college?

Photo of Danny Scuderi

Thanks, Ellen. I think that belief in the "right/only" path to college dissuades many from pursuing it at various stages of the process. I like the idea of rethinking it and rebranding it. 

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