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Commentary: My Changing Perspective on College

My Choice is Community College
Catherine Adams (’21)

As a student who transferred into the traditional public school system later on in my high school career from a charter school, I have seen many views on post-secondary education.

At the charter school, a mandatory “college prep” class took place every day, where we would plan for our future after high school. At that time I had the social pressure of wanting to go to a “good” college, and schools like Brown and Bentley were on my list. Now as I am finally a senior, reality has hit and my list is much different. Now I have schools like Middlesex Community College and Bunker Hill Community College on my list.

Senior year the typical question that most students get asked is where they plan on going to college. I vividly remember the first time I responded that I was going to attend community college, I was talking to an older co-worker. The sympathetic “Oh” and solemn face that left him was not what I was expecting after my response. It made me question how often would a reaction like this happen when I explained my plans for after high school. Nearly every interaction I had then about my college status required me to explain that this is what I want to do and it is not something I should be pitied for.

As a student who has held a job all my time in high school and has been financially independent, I know the worth of a dollar.


Taking a step back I realized how different views are on the topic of college. A few years ago, I too would have pitied anyone who told me they were going to a community college. After my new dignified explanation of my community college announcement, those I tell realize the brilliance of my plan.


The reason for my complete switch of mind could be defined in one word: debt. 

As a student who has held a job all my time in high school and has been financially independent, I know the worth of a dollar. What I want from college is to start my career and essentially the rest of my life. In the state of Massachusetts, according to Education, the average student debt after a 4-year bachelor’s degree is $33,256. $30,000 is also the amount I’d make working in 2 years while in college if I keep my current same job. Specifically Middlesex Community College, stated that the average debt of a student post-graduation is $2,458. Middlesex Community College offers a transfer program in which you can get your associate’s degree and then transfer to a state university for your bachelor’s. I am using this to my advantage as a way to not start off life with an extreme amount of debt and in order to live comfortably sooner. My bachelor’s degree will be from the same state school  as the students who attended that college all 4 years.

…all options should be seen as equals as each person does what is best for them. 

The college life differences between a community college and a four-year college could be used to argue against the community college route. Not many community college campuses provide on-campus housing or are actively involved in sports. As a student who cares about neither, this is not of worry to me. Even if the sports bothered me there are plenty of other schools and teams to root for. The absence of housing allows for real-world experience in living alone and budgeting finances for rent that would not be accomplished if dorm living, or it allows more time at home with family.

 A former anti-community college student turned enrolling community college student like myself has seen both sides of the college spectrum and all other post-secondary options in between, yet I still don’t understand the sour look on options other than a 4-year college. Personal preference and society play a role in the different viewpoints, yet all options should be seen as equals as each person does what is best for them. 

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    AnnDec 15, 2023 at 6:42 pm

    This is one smart young lady! I am a graduate of Middlesex CC’s nursing school, and I can assure you that MCC is one of the best bargains out there. As a registered nurse, you’re not going to get paid more money for having gone to a pricey nursing school, and no one cares or is going to ask you where you went to school. It used to be that if you graduate any Massachusetts community college with a 3.5 GPA, you’re guaranteed admission to the UMass system to pursue your Bachelor Degree. Or you can always transfer the credits from your community college Associates Degree to another “pricey” 4-year school if that’s what you want. The folks with the sour looks on their faces looking down on Abbie’s choices are really going to have some serious sourness when they find themselves saddled with debt while Abbie moves ahead with her life, making money and living debt free. Good for her!