. Period. That's all there is to it.
I'm going to be honest, I'm pissed off right now, and I probably shouldn't be noding, but I will; I need to vent
. My parents aren't poor
. They don't drive fancy cars or own huge houses, either. Instead, they're in that comfortable middle where financial aid
, save loans, is virtually impossible to get, even though the cost of college is too high to tackle alone. I'm not exactly dumb; I'm a state scholar
, I graduated in the top ten percent of my high school class, got a 25 on ACT
, and my grades weren't too horrible (3.5 or thereabouts). However, this is not sufficient to get any decent scholarships. Community college
seemed like a great idea; I would get my general education
out of the way, and then head on to UIUC
and become a computer scientist
. The counselors agreed that I had made a fine decision. Of course, this was a lie
My time at this particular community college has been rough; when I first attempted to register, they claimed that I had old fees that needed to be paid. This wouldn't seem off to most, but my father was the teacher of said course, and distinctly remembers sending in the check. At this same psuedo-registration meeting (they had come to our high school to register as many of us as possible), I was told that my ACT math score was insufficient for calculus I; they demanded a 28, but I only had a 25. For a moment, I thought this advisor was joking, as such a score would grant admission to UIUC directly. She wasn't. Consequently, I had to take a proficiency exam.
To make matters short, I managed a 50/55 when only a 44/55 was required, and everything was well, right? Of course not. By the time I had received my test results, the class had become full. I spent most of the summer tracking down the head of the math department, trying to get on a waiting list, and eventually getting into the class. Oddly enough, I received a departmental math award just a few weeks ago, finishing out as one of the top calc II students.
For brevity, I will not include the general bullshit that most students have to put up with. Certain levels of incompetency are to be expected; after all, this institution is not a real university (if it were, I'm sure the incompetency would be even worse, but others have written on the subject). I finally noticed that UIUC makes the freshmen and sophomores take an introductory CS class and a data structures class. This worried me, as the courses are sequential, and I feared I would fall behind, so today I visited my counselor. And so my troubles begin.
I always knew that I would need to take summer courses and possibly an extra semester of classes to get my BS from the University of Illinois, but what I heard today completely blew me away. I was told to expect to spend 3-4 years at the university, at about $15k/year. Now, because I was assuming 2.5 years--a figure that had been confirmed by a counselor--this came to me as a shock. Maybe I'm naive, but I thought I could expect honesty from the people who were helping me make long-term plans. I guess I was wrong.
But hope springs eternal. The two courses that would prevent me from moving ahead as quickly as I had planned can be taken at a different community college, about 40 miles away. Although I was still in a stupor, I mentioned this to the counselor. To my surprise and disgust, she actually told me that taking the classes would be a bad idea. At this point, I wondered if the counseling department is actively seeking to set me back, and left.
I went to community college to save some cash. That's not going to happen. I went to community college to save some hassles. That's not going to happen, either. Maybe next life around, I'll wisen up, take out some loans, and actually have a good time at a real university.
I'm not one for changing writeups
, so I'll just add a few notes on the above. In theory, community colleges are a good idea. People who do not have the money or time to attend a university
can access higher education, and those students who are not academically prepared for university can work on deficiences. Community colleges also offer excellent two-year degrees for certain fields. The ideal of the community college
does not transfer well to reality. Some students need classes that the college just does not offer, and problems arise when absolutely necessary transfer requirements cannot be met.
The friction that I am currently experiencing stems from the fact that I'm attending a woefully inadequate school for my major of choice. If, for example, I had chosen mechanical engineering, I could take most of the courses I would need to transfer to many state universities. With computer science as my preferred major, I have opened up a can of worms. Two courses separate me from a semi-workable transfer program and a full four years at a university; the whole point of attending community college was to avoid the cost of all four years! The fact that these setbacks exist due to two courses does not make things any better.
I shouldn't even have to mention this, but the counseling department is currently ill-equipped to handle any real problems. A stronger counseling department that would have warned me of the problems of transfering would have made the situation better by tenfold. I relied on a poor counseling department, and that was my own mistake. Instead of expecting help from them, I should have called to UIUC, asked for information, and settled things early on.
Learn from my mistakes. Research the program that you're going to transfer into. Call the university with questions. Visit the campus and ask there. Whatever you do, make sure that your plans are going to work out smoothly. If you find out that a few classes may add a significant amount of time to your studies, reconsider the community college. Planning is key! A year or two of university longer than you had planned can add up monetarily, especially if you change your mind about your major. Research. Interview. Be inquisitive. Get a course catalog. Get a course articulation list. Just don't rely on the comfort that "everything will be okay." Odds are, it won't.