Photo Courtesy of NBC
A new look at community college
April 13, 2020
In the midst of my Coronacation with all the time in the world, I feel as if I have been dropped into the middle of a sea of existential crises.
I find all these thoughts running through my head: what should I do right now? What would be productive? What is productive, for me? What am I working towards? What is my end goal, not just in this mystical time of seemingly suspended animation, but in life?
Since I am a normal human with a normal level of sanity, I decided to table these questions and busy my mind with something else entirely, something light and fun. Ergo, Community.
Community is an eccentric, silly, warm-hearted show centered around a group of seven community college students of all different ages and backgrounds. The show was recently added to the Netflix catalogue of television shows, and it did nothing to ease my tensions about my future.
Instead of distracting my weary mind, Community forced me to consider a recent pest of a question in the back of my mind: should I go to community college?
This thought creeps up in the back of my mind every so often; whenever I look at the distance between Encinitas and the East Coast, or I scroll to the bottom of the financial aid page of University of Washington and consider selling one of my kidneys.
But there was always one thought which held me back from just taking the plunge and planning to enroll at Mira Costa. One of the first lines of the show, spoken by the Dean of the fictional Greendale Community College, summed up my feelings perfectly: “What is community college? Well, you’ve heard all kinds of things. You’ve heard it’s a loser college for remedial teens, twenty-something dropouts, middle-aged divorcees, and old people keeping their minds active as they circle the drain of eternity.”
For the longest time, I believed community college to be the “lesser” path to take. It was what you did when you didn’t make the best grades in high school or you didn’t know what you wanted to do with your life. Since I was a kid, it has been ingrained in my head that community college would not be an acceptable path for me.
I marked the idea of “community college” with a stain of inadequacy. Of inferiority. Imperfection. For the longest time, I believed that community college would never be enough, and to choose such a path would be to commit to being less than what I could become.
But over the length of the show (and I won’t spoil anything), these community college students make their way through. They study, they work hard, and in the end they achieve great things– not necessarily the things they wanted when they stepped foot in the school, but things that coincided with themselves as grown people.
After watching this show, I realized how far down I had slipped into this idea of who I was to become. I realized that maybe I didn’t want a life so rigidly defined by expensive, collageit walls, and maybe community college is not the “lesser” way to go about my higher education. In fact, to say it is “lesser” than a four-year college might be to deny to yourself how non-conforming you are to the mold of “proper” higher education, as it is in my case.
Community showed me that perhaps community college is not an inferior step in the wrong direction, but simply a different step in the same direction.