• Tue, May 1 2012

I Regret: Community College

Do you have regrets? Tell TheGloss your regrettable story in 600-800 words and you could win these designer shades to hide your shameful, shameful face.

I try to be one of those people who lives with no regrets. However, I think that thus far my biggest and only regret is that I am 23 and still in community college, and will probably be there at least until I’m 24.

Let’s rewind a bit, though, to get a full picture. My sophomore year, around the time you start thinking about what colleges you want to apply to, there was no question for as to where I wanted to end up. I knew what I wanted to do: I wanted to be a writer. The place where that was going to happen was New York. I was a young girl from LA with big dreams of New York and I was going to apply to Columbia and NYU and every other school I could think of in the general area. I was going to make it happen; I just had to tell my mom.

I sat my mom down one night after dinner (to this day, I think she was half afraid I was going to tell her I was pregnant) and laid out my plan. I was going to move to New York, go to school, and work, and learn, and work and work and work. Did I mention work? I never thought it would be easy, and I was ok with that. My mom quickly shot me down. Her plan was for me to do two years at our local community college, to mature, she said. Then, after two years, if New York was still what I really wanted, I could transfer.

I was not happy with this. At 15/16 those two years seemed insurmountable, a huge obstacle to making my dreams happen. That put me FOUR years away from where I wanted to be. I was determined, though, so I replanned and made a different proposal. I would begin Independent Study (like home school) and graduate in a year. Then take a year and a half to get my credits at CC and BOOM! Be in New York almost close to my original plan. Needless to say, I was shut down again.

In hindsight, I realize that I could have made the best of the situation by applying to local universities, or even just doing my time at CC before moving on. However, I gave up. I lost my motivation. I skated through my last two years of high school, doing the absolute bare minimum required to pass. I did not even bother with the SATs. I stopped bothering with advanced classes and extra curriculars. What was the point? You didn’t need a good GPA or anything for community college–they let just about anyone in there. It got to the point where, I, (ME, the future writer and Lit. professor) almost failed senior English. I managed to graduate, and then came my first semester at community college.

I have been in community college for 5 years. The first two years I was there, I accomplished nothing. I wasted my time and money. My third year, I completely changed direction and tried a brief stint as a nursing major but I still wasn’t committed. I ditched class to hang out with friends, dropped classes because I felt like the professors weren’t engaging enough and tried to skate through like I had in high school. It wasn’t until the middle of my fourth year when a friend called me out after failing another class.

He said, “You’re always talking about how you can get straight A’s if you wanted, if you only applied yourself. I call bullshit.”

Of course I replied with “I could if I wanted!”

”Prove it,” he challenged me. And so began the turnaround.

Now, I am faced with undoing and fixing three and a half years of fucking around and not taking school seriously. And quite frankly, it sucks. At 16, I felt like time was my biggest obstacle, but I became my biggest obstacle, and made the time even longer. Now at my age, I have friends and peers considering grad school, starting careers, getting married and basically starting “grown up life” as I had always imagined it for myself.

I suppose, to be specific, it is not going to community college that I regret the most, it’s feeling superior to the experience and not making the most of the situation. I regret standing in the way of my own dream. But, I do not despair. I will get to New York eventually. It will just be, regrettably, later than I wanted.

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  • len132

    I just wanted to chime in- I know you probably know this, but you can still definitely achieve your dreams, even if they are taking you a little longer than you first hoped. My brother entered college straight from high school, and he wasn’t ready for it. He spent three years as a physics major before dropping out. Now he’s figuring out what he wants. Sometimes things take a little time.

    • Magda

      Yeah, I do know, but its still nice to have what you think confirmed. =)

      When I was younger, and even semi-recently, I always just felt like my life was this huge ticking clock and there wasn’t going to be enough time to do everything I wanted before it would self-destruct.

      I don’t really feel that way so much any more, but its still not a nice feeling to look back and realize that I wasted so much time because I “cut off my nose to spite my face”.

  • Christie

    It seems like you’re at that “quarter life crisis” stage. I’ve been there. I felt lost and like I wasn’t doing what I hoped I would do. I went to college straight out of high school, got an English degree and then said, “now what?”. I, too, thought I might move to New York, but to become a rock journalist and write for Rolling Stone. Instead, I moved to Miami, Florida, worked as an urban missionary with the homeless population, then moved again, worked for a non-profit, and now I’m back in school getting a Master’s in Marriage and Family Therapy. Totally different.

    It’s crazy how life works out. Even a couple of years will turn you in a direction in a way you never expected. Maybe community college is where you’re at now, but you’re only 23. You have so much life ahead of you and nearly endless possibilities. Move somewhere else; do something you never thought you would; live your life and get lost in it. You might surprise yourself with where you end up and what you want to do next. :-)

    • Magda

      I literally tell my friends repeatedly that I am having a quarter life crisis… And to expect a huge melt down upon my 25 birthday.

      But I get what you’re saying, and I really, really try to stay optimistic/focused, but sometimes, it just sucks. Especially when one of your former best friends just graduated from Yale and you (me) are still trying to get all your transfer units in order.

  • Ktree

    Oh man, I feel you. I am 30 and still trying to finish my BS. Not to go into my whole, long, ridiculous story, I wish I had followed advice to “just get it done” while I was younger, more motivated, owed less money, had no legal problems and was less bipolar. (Literally, not in like a funny way.)
    I wish you the best of luck, and if you are open to any advice at all, it would be just keep going. In 5 years, you are going to be 5 years older either way; if you keep working toward your goals, you’ll feel a lot better about yourself when you get there.

    • Magda

      Yeah, one of the things that made it harder to get the school part of my life together was that I’ve struggled with depression since I was about 13. But when I decided it was time to make it work, I went and saw a psychiatrist, and started therapy which has totally helped me stay on track and not feel like I have this vortex waiting to suck me in.

      Even though I am regretful about how I’ve managed my time with school, I am most definitely trying to stay positive, and it definitely helps to know I’m not climbing this mountain alone. =)

  • Sam

    First off: this is a super interesting story and I’m really glad you wrote it. I think I relate in a weird way, because I’m at the end of my senior year of college and, looking back, I barely did anything in college or high school. I haven’t even done math or my language requirement yet (I’m doing them online this summer). I never did APs or any advanced courses besides writing ones in high school and only took the SATs once (although I almost took it twice but then couldn’t due to some Thai food-related allergic reaciton, haha). In college, I always went to the first meeting of clubs but never continued besides, again, writing ones. I never had an internship, though I did have a job, and I never really did anything that great for my future…I mostly just dated people and went to parties and got okay grades until this year when I realized that, oh shit, I have to go out in the real world or whatever.

    So thanks for writing this! It’s weirdly comforting knowing that I’m not the only one regretting not doing anything for a while.

    • Magda

      The one perk, for me at least, of doing so much partying and what not during those “nothing” years, is that now I’m kind of burnt out on the partying and it’s kind of made me a better student, because I’m in a different head space. So that’s something, I suppose.

  • Ashley

    I want to thank you for writing this article. I’m a 23 year old college sophomore (this is my fourth year as a sophomore). At first my problem was not caring, but then I was assaulted and abused so that added PTSD, anxiety, and depression to the mix. It is so hard right now to regain the motivation I had in high school to complete my BS which is ironically in a subject I love but I just want to say your article made the part of me that hates being the oldest in class a little more tolerable and a little more quiet.

    • Magda

      Its definitely not the best feeling in the world to feel like the “old lady” in the back of the class. Sometimes I sit there and thing, “You weren’t even in high school when I graduated! I have been legally drinking longer than you have legally been an adult!”

      But if it makes you feel better, we are in it together!!

  • D.

    Love. It. I regret not going to community college, it would have saved me a lot of money and helped me build a foundation I would have liked going into university.

    • Magda

      Now that I’m not so busy whining and feeling like I’m “too good” for community college, I realize that it is a good, cost effect way to separate the people that are serious about school and people who aren’t sure what they want from life/education.

      Perfect example, I have a friend who went to a university, and is in the same boat I’m in, but wasted four years of her parents money on tuition.

  • Caitlin

    so nice to know im not the only one going through this! I was supposed to graduate college this year with the rest of my high school classmates, but thanks to not taking community college serious I’m going to be stuck there for another year. But I am cracking down now this semester and have made all A’s and B’s. Go me!

  • Cristina

    I love your story! I laughed out loud about the part when you sat your mom down. Follow your dreams. I believe in you.

  • Libby

    This is basically the story of my life right now.

  • Blue

    So really, you regret behaving like a lazy moron, which has very little to do with community college, which was only there to help you. I think you need to learn how to write.