During my senior year of high school I was a 4.0 student, played sports, was involved in Model United Nations along with other extra curriculars, had decent SAT and ACT test scores and multiple AP course credits. I also participated in the Move on When Ready program my senior year of high school where I completed my entire course load at our community college gaining college credits while completing my requirements for my diploma. I had friends who were accepted to Harvard, Duke and Vanderbilt and was set to apply to any school I dreamed of going to….but instead I decided to continue my education at my local community college before transferring to a four year university.

Now that I’m completing my senior year at the University of Georgia, I reflect on the pathway I chose for higher education and don’t regret any part of it. Given my level of success in high school, I have gotten many sideways looks over the years from people when they hear that I went straight to community college after graduation. Community College in general has gained this stigma of being the absolute last choice or being the school of choice for students who barely graduated high school.

Fortunately, this stigma is quickly dying out with the increased awareness of student loans. I also discovered early on that everything I was learning at my community college was the exact same material my friends at the University of Georgia were learning in a classroom filled with 300 students compared to my class of 25. I had personal relationships with all of my professors at my school, simply because I could. My access to resources and the ability to get more involved in the classroom came from choosing to start off my college career at my local community school.

Photo Credit: OnlineAthens

I have had the best of both worlds now after being at the University of Georgia for almost three semesters. My initial fear was not being able to get involved on campus because I missed out on the first two years all of my peers experienced. But, I jumped right in after transferring. I hold a position on the Executive Board for the American Marketing Association’s UGA Chapter, I’m a member of the Society of Entrepreneurs, and I run my own digital marketing business.

I can confidently say that my choice to transfer has been by far the best decision for earning my college degree. I was able to learn more about myself and get on my feet during my first two years at community college before taking the leap to a huge 4 year university. It gave me the ability to really discover what my passions are, start my business and explore my options before being faced with the overwhelming environment of a 35,000+ student body with hundreds of degree programs. While I know that the pathway I chose is not for everyone, I hope I resonate with those who aren’t totally ready to take the complete leap right away. It doesn’t make you any less by choosing to go your own way and besides your employer won’t ever know where you started, they only care about where you ended.

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