Everyone’s College Experience is Different (and that’s okay!)

The best thing about college is the independence and the opportunity to start fresh. When I graduated from high school in 2015, I promised myself that I was leaving home asap. I chose a university six hours away. I was able to explore hidden parts of myself and be free.

However, my naiveté was uncalled for, because—guess what—college is expensive. Sure, that’s glaringly obvious. But 18-year-old me was so set to leave and do something more, and I assumed I’d figure it out. I was awarded a scholarship that would cover my housing fees for most of the school year; I rationalized that I’d have a year to come up with the money to pay for my sophomore fees. Spoiler alert: I didn’t.

After a series of events and calculations during the famous  Summer 16, I realized that I wouldn’t be able to attend CPP that fall. Instead, I would be completing my general education at my community college, then transferring to my local university. I’ve always prided myself on my academics, and I never expected to attend a community college (especially as I considered myself a “good” student). I didn’t think I’d end up having to attend my local university, the one I tried so adamantly to avoid. I felt shame, embarrassment, and disappointment (to name just a few emotions).

Y’all, I cried a lot and spent many summer days and nights shredding my self-esteem. Self-esteem? Don’t know her.

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low-quality pic of me, circa 2015

Despite my low hopes, in the beginning, I left community college a year later with high spirits. I met amazing professors who I will keep in contact with; I took interesting classes catered to my interests, and yo, I was okay. I also realized that my unorthodox college journey isn’t all that unique. I met people who also transferred out of university for a multitude of reasons—none of which were because they weren’t smart enough. If attending a community college is the option you’re taking, trust me, there is absolutely nothing wrong with it. 

Remember, no college experience is identical.

Social media has a great way of making people feel like we’re missing out on so many things. This is especially bad in college when you see people out partying, traveling, and looking like they’re living their best lives. It took some time to learn this, but I’m not missing out on anything.

I am living my own life, taking things at my own pace and experiencing what I am meant to be experiencing.

I’m learning the significance of validating my experiences. Rather than dismissing them, I’m training myself to understand that social media is a snapshot of people’s best lives, and comparing my life to theirs is a shot to my confidence.

Although I never expected to attend my local university,  I’ve been so blessed in the year and a half I have been here.  I’m grateful for my time at my first university and community college. They have led me to be more open-minded, self-aware and confident. Clichés aside, things do happen for a reason—even if their purpose can’t be seen just yet. Whether if you’re taking a gap year(s), going to community college, or if you go to a state school, your educational journey is okay.

🗣 Learn to appreciate the present and know that where you are right now is good enough. You are good enough. This is your life and your own special journey, so it’s okay if it differs from others. 💛

If you have some advice on dealing with the whole “college experience”, or would like to share your experience in college, please share them in the comments!