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Entering college is a frightening and daunting experience for most students. It’s one of those times where the fear of the unknown is the most frightening of all fears. We’re not sure whether we’ll be able to adapt to a situation in which every student must stand on their own two feet and take responsibility for their education and future. This is the most critical change of our lives, from high school to college. Unfortunately, some college students feel that attending college is purely to seek a career. I must confess that I was one of those students. Nonetheless, my college experience has taught me that college is all about discovering yourself, who you are as an individual, and who you want to be.

I had no idea what course I should follow in high school. Should I continue working, go to college, or join the military? It’s a life-changing decision that’s held me up for several nights. My results were outstanding, and my peers either praised or mocked me for my intellect. School, on the other hand, did not appeal to me. I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life and, as a member of the post-9/11 generation, I was more concerned with what was going on in the world. I was on the brink of joining the army when I realized I couldn’t physically do so. The obvious choice seemed to be college. Until two of my closest friends were kidnapped before I turned eighteen. My future was the furthest thing from my mind. My grades have fallen, my heart has been shattered, and my life has been ripped apart. I got my diploma, but I didn’t think college was the solution to my problems. I moved out on my own, worked in a restaurant, and simply hung out with my neighborhood friends. Every day, I felt like I was squandering my talent and life by becoming a ‘normal’ person. After that, I went to my sister’s high school graduation to hear the valedictorian speech. “Our greatest glory in life is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall”, he said, and it has stayed with me ever since. That single line shifted my perspective on life. I decided that going to college was the only way I could progress in my life. However, money was tight, and I had no idea what I was going to research. I knew that community college would be my only chance to put my experience behind me and move forward. I had no idea how much it would affect and change my life.

Community college is sometimes portrayed as a safety net for high school graduates who lack the financial resources or academic credentials to attend a four-year university. However, I realized right away that community college meant something more. It assisted me in making the transition from high school to a wider world full of new people and experiences. You don’t have to live in a dorm, you can set your own schedule, and you have access to a wealth of services. Libraries, computers, and tutors are all easily available.

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I was a little confused by the college experience during my first semester. Nonetheless, as I interacted with other students, I started to feel more at ease. They may have come from a different state or region, but their concerns and fears are the same as mine. Getting enough money to pay the bills, spending sleepless nights preparing for a test, and working while attending school all led to my view of community college as a place where a student would take a deep breath and enter the overwhelming world of college with ease.

One question persisted as I became more at ease in my new surroundings: ‘What do I want to do with my life?’. I’ve been told and complimented on my writing since middle school. I didn’t know how seriously I took every essay I got or every story idea I had at the time. Every word I wrote was personal to me, and it held a personal significance. In high school, I was forced to make others read my work, and they all praised it. They’d even ask me to assist them with their article. Not to write it, but to steer it in the right direction. I started taking every paper seriously during my freshman year of college. I will still see my professors’ feedback as an opportunity to change. In my second year, I took a creative writing class, and it was the best class I’d ever taken. It was motivating to have the whole class read and criticize my work. It encouraged me to share my strengths and weaknesses with others. In this class, I realized I wanted to be a writer. I wanted to concentrate on journalism and English as my main subjects. Writing to me was a welcome break from my hectic life, and it helped me share my thoughts on people and the state of the world today. Never before has anything had such a profound effect on me. More importantly, writing has pushed me to question myself as a person who has been through too much and yet manages to get up every day and face the world. I would not have learned this if I had not attended community college. I created my own schedule and met some interesting people along the way, including a special friend who encouraged me and helped me pursue a specific path. One of my works is on the verge of becoming a reality, and I’m proud of that.

I would not have believed it if you told me that five years ago. However, I can now see that community college is an important institution that can lead you to examine yourself and reveal your true self. And now I understand why I am here and what I want to achieve.

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