When it comes to selecting a college to attend following high school, many expect they will go to a four-year university. At least, while I was in high school, that’s what a lot of my peers believed.
I thought the same thing until the end of my junior year of high school, when I still had no idea what I was doing. I didn’t have any applications started or anything prepared for any colleges.
That’s when I thought perhaps college wasn’t for me. But then my boyfriend said he wanted to go to Green River College. My first thought was, “community college? That sounds terrible and not like a real school.”
The more I looked into it though, the more I liked the idea.
The cost at Green River was about $1,500 a quarter to be a full-time student, compared with about $11,000 for an out-of-state four-year school, depending on the institution. Starting with a community college also is convenient because students can complete general education requirements much cheaper than at a four-year school.
I was also unsure about a major, which made going to community college an even better choice. I could basically take whatever classes I wanted to test the waters and see what I liked – and didn’t like.
What really caught my eye about Green River was it had a soccer team. I jumped at the opportunity and ended up getting a scholarship for two years.
So I spent two years at Green River and have to say it was one of the greatest choices I’ve ever made. I not only saved money, but I figured out what I wanted to do. And I got to play soccer for an extra two years, which was important to me. If I had gone to a four-year college, it was less likely I would continue playing.
I had taken criminal justice classes and fell in love with them at Green River. So when deciding on a major, I chose criminology. Now the hard part came. What university to attend?
Well into my second year at Green River, a friend who went to school at the University of Montana suggested I take a look at the campus, which I did and I thought it was OK. I ended up deciding on going there, even though it was not was I was expecting. I really thought I would attend school in Washington.
When I went to the transfer orientation that spring in Missoula, I was nervous. I had no idea what to expect, but it ended up being really helpful.
It was nice because since I received my associates degree at Green River, I didn’t have to stay with other students to figure out what general classes I needed. I was able to jump right into my major, with a few exceptions, like having to take some classes the university required but weren’t at my community college.
I also decided to minor in journalism. Little did I know that would become another one of my greatest choices.
By the second week of school I had decided to wanted to change my major to journalism and my end goal was to be sports reporter or photographer. By joining the School of Journalism, I not only fell in love with the school, but I finally knew what I wanted to do with my life.
The point is, go to community college before university if you have no idea what you want to do. Or even if you do. It saves money and allows you to adjust to the world of college at a slower pace.
It also gives you a jump start when selecting a university by allowing you to jump right into your major. When I think of the University of Montana I think of education that counts toward my future career, not a place to take random classes.