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Is freshman year worth it?

I would love the college experience but money is an issue. Will I miss out if I go to community college?

Freshman year is not the best experience for everyone, says our elder. Make the financially responsible choice.

Dear EWC

I have spent my entire life wanting to go away for college and get the full experience of it all. However money wise I do not have a lot of room. I found out that I did not get into the desired program as I had hoped. Because of this my mom thinks it would be smart for me to go to community college for gen ed, and transfer later. I know this is a smart decision but I can’t help but feel like I would be missing so many experiences that happen your freshman year of college. I also feel like being stuck in my hometown gives me a status that I do not want to have. What are your thoughts on staying in your hometown/the experience of college?

Aondreaa replies

Well, you are talking to an old person here, one who has grandchildren struggling with the same decision that you are! My advice to all of you is: make the financially responsible choice.
Of course, I recognize that there is social prestige among peers when one is accepted to a 4-year college and goes away immediately after high school. However, the romanticized anticipation of being away at school can be very different from reality. Freshman year is not necessarily a thrilling experience for everyone.

There is tremendous social pressure at college to party and drink, engage in sexual activity, and use drugs, etc. For many freshman college students, these distractions, with no adult supervision, result in unanticipated problems, even illness.

For others, the difficulties of managing one’s entire existence away from home for the first time comes too soon for many college freshmen. Even if one’s parents or scholarships are providing the money, there are roommate issues, time management issues, dietary issues, and so on.
Although my own college experience was more than half a century ago, I experienced some of the problems I just mentioned. I gorged on excessive dormitory food and candy from vending machines (which I had never encountered before!), had squabbles with my roommate (had never shared a bedroom before!), had some confusing romantic entanglements (which I had never had before!), and struggled with some coursework (which I never had before!). On top of that, I found myself in a social environment that was quite alien (California girl in the Midwest). Long story short, I returned to home base after my freshman year and completed my college education close to home, residing at my parents’ house.

The financial issue is much more significant than when I attended college. This is extremely important for you and your parents to consider. You want to minimize the burden of debt which you will carry after graduation. Seriously.

I really think community college is the way to go. I’m hoping my next granddaughter will see the light (though she has not asked for my input!), and hope you do, too! Think twice! Think three times! This will be the first big decision of your life! Thanks for asking a grandmother’s advice!

Letter #: 457100
Category: School

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