When a high school senior thinks of college, they think of the big universities, glitz and glamor; a huge campus you could get lost on, full of thousands of people you do not know, and most likely never will. When a new high school graduate thinks of community college the same things do not appear; the perception of community colleges is not so glamorous in up and coming students. After graduation, I had dreams of attending the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga; community college had not even crossed my mind. I believed I was ready to conquer the world as a young, know-it-all eighteen year-old. I could not have been more wrong.
The summer continued to fly by, and eventually I made it through UTC's weekend orientation. Orientation was fantastic. I saw many of my friends from high school, loved the campus, the clubs, and all of the activities they had to offer. Orientation also led me to ponder if UTC was the best choice. I began to realize that for the first time in my life, I would be entirely on my own; paying for my own things, cooking my own meals, struggling to manage time between friends, going out, school, and church. Suddenly I felt overwhelmed. There were numerous issues that could hinder me from doing my absolute best. I voiced my worries to my mother, who started her college education at a community college. She mentioned the possibility of staying at home and attending Vol State, at least for a semester. Community college, having to live at home while all my friends were wild and free, did not seem like it would be the most fun. Financially it made sense, though, and I knew staying home would only give me more time to mature.
I applied to Vol State in June (much to the surprise of my friends in Chattanooga). I attended new student orientation and registration in July, and was ready for classes to begin in August. Shortly before classes began, I got a job at the UPS hub in Nashville. Staying home gave me the opportunity to attend school, work, and also grow more self-sufficient. As classes began, and I learned more about Vol State, my whole perception of the community college system changed. Vol State has tremendous professors, the administration is easy going and extremely helpful, and the school offers a wide variety of clubs activities, degrees, certificates, and travel study. These are things that the majority of my friends believed you could only find at large universities. I joined the Honors Program and attended several student events throughout the year. I knew I had made the correct choice. The college experience is not found exclusively at a university. Vol State has so much to offer to their students, and deciding to attend Vol State has prepared me not only for transfer to university but for my professional career after school.