Choosing a School: A Degree is a Degree, No Matter Where You Go

Getting an education is important. High school seniors have a lot of important decisions to make after graduation. To some students, getting into a well-known and “good” school is important. To others, just getting into a school is good enough. Some students plan in advance for college, others make a last minute plan, and even others don’t have a plan at all. I belonged to the group without a plan after graduation.

Having given birth to my daughter during the first semester of my senior year, I graduated from an alternative school. Managing my parental responsibilities along with high school was stressful enough. College was the furthest thing from my mind, despite all of the planning I had done my sophomore and junior years. I had planned to go to college and had been planning for a couple years. My goals had been to go to college abroad, preferably in England. When I had my daughter though, those plans all changed. College wasn’t about what I wanted to do anymore, it was about what I needed to do.

The same month my daughter turned one, I found myself pregnant with my second child. I knew I needed to do something. I walked into Kenai Peninsula College and asked the receptionist how to sign up. Within an hour, I had a schedule of classes and I was ready to go.

That was it.

I didn’t have to sit there on pins and needles wondering if I got in. I didn’t mail off a million applications. I didn’t write essays about myself or my goals. I didn’t have to fight for spots with other hopeful freshman. I didn’t really have to stand out. I just had to be there and do my best. Part of my heart broke that it wasn’t my “dream school.” It was just a local community college. Part of me felt like I had failed by not going to a “good” school, but the option simply wasn’t there and this reality was something I had to accept.

I had a child and my husband had a job. We couldn’t pack up and leave to go live near the school of my dreams. We didn’t have the finances, nor the resources to do so. A local, community college was the best choice for me and my family.

It’s nice to get into a “good” school, but what so many students are failing to realize is that the first two years of almost any degree program requires almost the same courses; English, algebra, communication. These classes don’t have to be taken at your dream school. It might seem exciting and fun to move away and go to college, but sometimes it’s not practical. If I could only give one piece of advice to high school seniors, it would be to take the first two years of college at a local community college. It will save money and prevent any unnecessary student loan debt from accumulating.

High school seniors face a lot of tough decisions once they graduate. One thing they should keep in mind is finances and practicality. School gets expensive and the last thing a college student needs is to ruin themselves financially. High school students should take these issues into consideration when deciding where to go to school.