Ditching the Ivy League
** This post was originally published on 9/4/16. Some of the original content may have been edited.
Hi loves, happy Saturday! Hope you all are having a great Labor Day weekend. Here's a bit of a different post today, but I've been itching to do more of these discussion posts for a while now, so I figured: why not start it now? These are arguably some of my favorite types of posts to write, so I'm excited to start bringing them here.
One thing I get asked often, by old friends, peers, and people of the internet, is: why did you choose to go to community college?
And though it isn't a complicated question, I find that it's a rather complicated answer. Because it wasn't an easy decision for me to make, and, in all honesty, if you asked me at any point during high school what the absolute last route I wanted to take was, the answer would be community college.
I never, ever, ever want to sound like I'm putting myself on a pedestal, so take this next piece with a grain of salt (please). I guess, throughout high school, I developed a sort of "reputation" (ugh,I really hate that word) as being one of several girls that would "for sure" attend some sort of Ivy League school. I think, in part, it was due to my studious nature; I did pretty well academically, took all AP and honors courses, got (mostly) straight A's, and kept up with rigorous extracurriculars on top of it. It truly was a recipe for Ivy acceptance. And, looking back now, it makes me laugh.
I did't even apply to an Ivy.
In fact, I didn't apply to a single school.
But more on that later.
About halfway through my junior year, I decided to wake up and face reality. It was one of those things that happened in an instant- one moment, I was still as blind as before, and the next, I realized just what I was doing to myself.
At that time, I was taking 5 AP classes. It was the midst of finals week, and I had 14 tests in 5 days. Mathematically, it doesn't make sense, when there's only 12 classes per week, but let's just say that lunch time tests had become a thing. I was sitting on my floor, in the middle of a circle of study guides- one for each test- and staring at my agenda, which was chock-full of test dates and times in multi-colored ink. The site of it was enough to swell my stomach with anxiety, and cause a full-on breakdown.
I was beyond stressed. It's recommended that students take no more than 3 AP classes at one time, and I was taking five- along with three other kids at my school who were just as crazy enough to take that many.
After my little stress-induced episode, I sat and wondered "why". Why was I placing so much stress on myself? Why was it that my life was nothing but school, while all my friends were out having fun and making memories? Was it really worth all this stress just for a shot at getting into a prestigious college?
The answer: no, it wasn't.
Looking at the path I'm on now...where my life has ended up now...I do wish I had spent less time so intently focused on my studies, and more time having fun. That's not to say that I wish I got poor grades- I don't. But eventually, those little letters on a paper will fade, and won't matter, unlike memories, which last forever.
And that isn't to say that I didn't make memories, because ohhh boy, I did. I made many, some good and some...not-so-good. But I just wish I made more, more that didn't revolve around studying.
I couldn't continue to make myself completely miserable through the rest of high school. So, halfway through my junior year, I dropped two of my AP classes, and my senior year, I opted to take none. I knew this would make me look less competitive to colleges, and I knew this would greatly reduce my chance of getting into my dream schools. When I decided to graduate early (with my Diploma), I knew that this too would greatly reduce my chance, as I had opted to end early instead of staying a full year and therefore taking a year's worth of rigorous classes.
But I didn't care. There comes a point in your life where you have to step back and put your personal happiness above anything else. The only reason I even took so many hard classes to begin with was not necessarily because of my parents, but more because of the insane pressure I tend to place on myself. I think it's a bit too obvious to say that I'm a perfectionist, but above that, I tend to hold myself to such high standards and, when I don't hit those standards, I crumble. I still struggle with doing that, and I don't think it's something that'll ever change.
Yet, this was the one time I set those standards to the side. And looking back now, I'm really grateful that I did, because I had a really pleasant latter-half of high school. Of course, there were times of stress, per the norm, but it was nothing like the stress I was facing before.
So, due to myself having greatly lowered my chances of getting into my dream school (or, any school of my choosing, really), I decided to cut my losses and make the decision to just go to community college. I'm not going to lie, it was a big kick in the gut to my ego (not that I think I have an "ego", but you know what I mean...my inner perfectionist cried a lil lol). But I knew that it was what would be best for me. Plus, I was also thankful for the extra two years at home, I wasn't quite ready to be completely off on my own just yet.
So while everyone I know was getting ready to move into their dorms this past month, I was getting ready for my first day at CC. And, after looking back on everything, I really am happy with my decision, and I don't regret a thing. I am a firm believer in that everything happens for a reason, and, when you put your trust into the universe, it'll stick you on the right path; for me, it did. I'm so content, and so happy with my decision, and I'm definitely glad I'm not freezing my ass off on the East Coast (no offense to all my EC friends, but I hate the cold). ;) I'm settling into my classes well, I'm making friends, and I'm honestly having a lot of fun. Plus, it's nice that I have some more time to save up money before I'm off on my own. Every bit helps, right?
Now, that leads me onto the next little bit: what are my future plans?
My main goal is to finish CC within two years, and transfer into my D R E A M school: University of California, Berkeley. I absolutely love Berkeley as a town- I live about a half hour from there now, and the whole area (Berkeley + Oakland) is probably my favorite area of the Bay to explore. It's such a liberal, artsy, vegan-friendly area, and if you know me, then you know that's right up my alley. ;) Focusing on the actual school itself: it's no secret that it's a beautiful campus, and aside from that, one of the highest-ranking colleges in the country. I'm majoring in Sociology, and they have an amazing sociology department, which is definitely a huge factor in why I want to go there so badly.
It's definitely the dream, and a dream I'm going to hold onto until I get that acceptance letter. But, right now, it's a dream that's also on the back burner; my focus is on my studies and my work, and I'm not worrying too much right now about applications and acceptances. I have two years for that, and, after all, how can you apply if you don't make the grades? ;)
Of course, I'll let you guys know when everything happens, when it comes time. But for now, this is a little bit of how I ended up where I am today...academics wise. With anything, there's so much more, but I'll save that for another post.