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More Students are Choosing Community College Over Debt

"College is too expensive, and you would have already incurred a large debt even before having your first job.” We all have heard of these sentiment once (or even more than once!) in our lives and this are proven with the $32,500 or $23,900 average costs of tuition fees for a private and public four-year college.

This leaves several high school graduates with not enough choice but to immediately get jobs while those who are lucky enough continue to college after graduation. Yet there are still some who refuse to let these things hinder them and instead, look for other ways to be able to go after what they want. Take for example, the story of Maria de Abreu Pineda, 22.

Pineda and her family were originally from Venezuela but in 2011, they moved to New Jersey. This further encouraged her to pursue her dreams of going to college but knowing the high cost of tuition fees for the traditional four-year colleges, she opted to attend a two-year community college, Bergen Community College. When asked why she decided to enroll to a community college, she explains, "A lot of students graduate with debt, and I didn’t want that.” This proved to be the best choice because with her tuition fee of $2,670 per semester which was a far cry from what she had to pay in a four-year college, she was able to graduate without incurring any debts.

Furthermore, Pineda took a number of honors classes and truly excelled in her studies. Eventually, she even graduated with honors. She wants to disprove the misconception that the quality of education that you get from community colleges will never be at par with what you get from the traditional four-year colleges, instead she strongly believes that everything still largely depends with how the student makes use with what s/he has and definitely not with the school. Whenever we are in a particular situation, it is up to us to make the most of whatever resources there are and to turn them into opportunities. We can definitely ask help from others such as our professors and mentors to give us pieces of advice and insights but the final say should still come from us.

Pineda’s plan didn’t stop from there. Because she did well in her studies, she was awarded with two scholarship grants which enabled her to pursue an Engineering course in the Stevens Institute of Technology, a private university in New Jersey. Currently, she is already in her last year and is set to graduate in May 2017.

When asked how did she do all of it, Pineda greatly attributes her success to her initial decision to attend a community college for two years to not incur any debts. She did not let anything weaken her desire to go to college and instead, made use of her time in Bergen to build an exceptional scholastic record which eventually enabled her to attend a private college.

Just like Pineda, we should not let certain circumstances hinder us from reaching our goals. We should always remember that along with dedication and hard work, determination and the ability to see problems as "temporary things” which all have solutions go a long way. The world presents a big array of opportunities just waiting to be uncovered and it is up to us to make these beneficial for our growth and development. Having to choose the less appealing choice for now doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll be stuck with something you don’t truly like. Sometimes, these choices even act as detours and bring us closer to reaching our goals.

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