I know. It’s been too long since I last wrote to Y’all. I’m so sorry for the lack of posts, my last semester ended and I am not exaggerating when I say it absolutely killed my mental health. I needed to take a break and get adjusted to my summer classes before I could get myself to sit down and write with a positive mindset. I wanted my next post to be about my community college experience since I finally graduated with my associate’s degree and will be pursuing my bachelors at a university. I will have two years until I finish my next degree. I’m happy beyond words to be writing and I hope you’re excited to read. Lots of changes are headed my way and I hope Y’all are coming along for the ride!
I am excited beyond words to be done with community college. These past four years I have honestly had little to no good words about the community college I was attending, that is, until now. I hope you’re ready to read because I want to tell y’all about my experience so you can understand what community college was like for me. This isn’t a pity party, this is this is the honest truth of what school was life for me the past four years. Honesty and being genuine with your readers is what makes a great blogger and I will always stand by that. So without further ado, let’s get started.
As many of you know, my name’s Alexis Raynak (Lex) and I am a twenty-one-year-old college student at the Community College of Allegheny County — CCAC. I initially chose to attend community college when I was in my senior year of high school because of 1. I knew I’d be the one paying for my classes and 2. I wanted to be a nurse, quickly and in the cheapest way possible. My high school guidance counselor absolutely tried his best to talk me out of it without even understanding why I wanted to attend CCAC. I started my journey at CCAC when I was seventeen years old with every aspiration to become a nurse. I was excited to graduate and leave my high school life behind me, but I didn’t realize what was about to happen during this next chapter of my life.
I entered CCAC during the fall of 2014 taking the wrong classes from an advisors mistake (which is not an uncommon thing, by any means), I made little to no friends, I was harassed by inappropriate guys who would hang out on the stairs, and felt very alone and dealt with depression for the first time in my life. I was working full time to pay for my college education when my “inherited money” was used up. After finishing three semesters of classes, I came to the realization that nursing was not the correct path for me and it was not what I thought it was going to be like. I knew I should no longer waste my time struggling through classes I absolutely hated, but I did not want to quit on my education. During this time of my life, I learned more than I could have ever imagined. Unfortunately, through this learning process, I did fall into a deep depression and failed my classes for my last semester as a nursing student. I literally lost my sh*t for a short period of time because I felt so stuck. I tried to get advice from advisors about majors and money and unfortunately, I found nothing positive through that process. At all. They were unhelpful and downright rude. I could not make my school payments on top of all my other bills, this was a huge wakeup call to me on how to adult. I put myself into debt with a bill around $500. I felt alone and was stuck in a position I did not know how to get out of. I was struggling and losing hoping inside and outside of the classroom. An advisor told me that maybe college can’t happen for me, maybe I wasn’t college material. Which was crazy because I wasn’t a “stupid” girl, I was simply stuck and looking for help. During this time of struggling with paying for school, I had a whole Pell grant on my account (which is money for school you are given and do not need to pay back) and the CCAC Financial Aid never connected it to my account so I never got to use it. I was putting myself in debt but had money to pay for school the whole time without ever being notified of it. A lot of people at CCAC do not do their jobs. They do not seem to care about the students as much as they portray that they do via social media and their website. I decided instead of dwelling on the position I was in, I kept working. I researched things. I did anything I could to bring my mental state back to a healthy one. – This is the best advice I could ever give anyone, if you’re struggling, take a deep breath and just deal with it. Do everything you can to fix the position you’re in and keep moving forward. Your anxiety will get worse if you don’t step up. – I saved the money up over the summer and paid off my debt to CCAC. During that time, I applied for financial aid (again) in hopes something would point me in the right direction because I did not, nor will I ever want to give up on my education. And all that hard work paid off. My job at Marshalls allowed me to do more administrative work throughout the summer and I loved it. Fortunately, that opportunity from my manager opened my eyes to possibly majoring in business and I will always be thankful for that. Things always happen the way they’re supposed to.
Fast forward to the upcoming fall semester of 2016, I received an award letter in the mail with Pell grant which was enough to cover my school expenses entirely. I sat down on my porch reading the letter and broke down into tears of a joy. I called the financial aid to ask if this letter was correct because I couldn’t believe I received money for school. This was when I found out how I had money the previous year and that they messed up by not connecting it to my account. I was so thankful for what I received for the upcoming year, I didn’t let it bother me, it was pointless to get upset. I was simply just thankful because if this wouldn’t have happened, I wouldn’t have been able to attend the school that fall semester. I scheduled classes the next day as a business major and created a positive relationship with my new favorite person as CCAC, Pamela Young, shortly after. She pointed a lost girl down a positive path and it was exactly what I needed. I did not know what the future held for me, but I was thankful for the opportunity given to me. I went from a failing student to an A student in a matter of months. I didn’t have to work full time anymore, I was able to focus on my studies, I was able to make school my number one priority. My dreams changed, and I was beginning my new journey to an associate degree and eventually a bachelor’s degree from a university. This is when my thoughts changed about CCAC. I worked hard in school and started loving my classes. I still hated the community college life, but I made the best of it. I knew what to expect now. I was blessed with great professors my first year and a half semesters as a business student. I made friends in my classes and things truly started to look up. I ended up taking a couple classes that essentially weren’t for my major or transferable and had to retake the right ones, which wasn’t great, but I learned from all of those courses so I didn’t let it bother me. I picked up a second job and it was a blessing for me through school (Thank you Rachel, Aubrey, & Char). I enrolled in a sponsorship program which made sure all of my schoolings would be covered for the rest of my time at CCAC. (Why my previous advisor told me that there was nothing I could do to help me pay for school is beyond me…) I was happy and even though I didn’t like the school itself, I loved what I was doing. I loved my new job, I loved the friends I made outside of school, I was learning to be happy again and let go of the anger that built up from the unlucky circumstances CCAC had given me. But as I mentioned early, I did not know what my future had in store for me. On October 21st, 2017, my father passed away suddenly. It was difficult. It’s hard to lose someone and still have to deal with reality so quickly. This made the end of my fall and spring semester difficult, on top of how difficult it already was. My English professor was beyond helpful and understanding, other professors, not so much. But I pulled through. I was excited for the spring semester because it was a fresh start, but it was still difficult for me to focus because of the change that went on outside of the classroom. It was hard to get up and go to class, a school filled with strangers when you were hurting inside. In the spring, I had two of the most awful professors I have ever had in my entire life, they were belittling and disrespectful. This was the semester from absolute hell. The amount of homework they assigned was unbearable and completely unnecessary. I am not exaggerating when I say I would spend at least 6 hours every single night doing homework online for these two courses that were NOT online classes for such a small percentage of my grade. I could hardly keep up and I was working so freeeeeaking hard. I honestly don’t know how I pushed through, but I did and I’m so happy about it. Maybe I was going through a lot on top of school, but it was truly horrible for every student.
So, not that you know a little background of what CCAC was like for me, let me give y’all some real advice. I always thought I knew how I’d write this blog post, I truly thought I would sit here and list out reasons on top of reasons to not attend a community college because I hated it so much, but that’s not the case. And that’s another reason why it has taken me so long to write it. I wanted to be as real and honest with you all as I can be. I want you to learn from my mistakes. I want you to take what I’m telling you to heart and grow from it. Yes, I hated community college with a passion, but it is what you make of it and I learned that and so much more along the way.
I am so glad I went to a community college now that I am on my way to transfer to a university. Here’s why: community college is not like real college in the sense that you will not make friends unless you’re in a program where you see people repeatedly over the time you are a student there. Most classes are with random people every semester. Most people fail out and do not try in their classes. You will go to class and go home. It will not be a positive experience simply for that reason. The school part will stress you out and you will not have the friend outlet as you did in high school. You will end up working more hours than most of your friends because you need the money and have nothing else to do besides school work. A lot of people will treat you like you’re “less” or like you’re not even in college meanwhile you’re drowning in school work. You’re going to mess up, but community college is cheap and it’s not a big deal at all. Listen to me, if you have no idea what to do with your life after high school, look at CC’s degree programs. You will never be wasting your money by doing this. if you have NO money for college and NO ONE to help you, go to a community college. Be realistic with your life. Yes, people will always get things handed to them in life and it doesn’t seem fair, it isn’t but do not play the victim. You need to do what you need to do to get your education, forget about anyone’s opinion. CC’s have tons of grant programs that can help you pay for college and even better, the transfer scholarships you receive from being a community college student is great. I am going to a $60,000 university, hardly paying anything, which made transferring possible for me and can make it possible for you too. You can take out Stafford loans without a cosigner if you need help paying for community college, either way, it’ll be affordable. Educate yourself and ask many questions until you find the answers you need. Work hard for your education, no one is going to hand it to you. You will have to adjust to the life at home without any friends, but you will adjust. It’ll be a period of huge growth, you will learn how to do everything on your own, eat, shop, workout, everything. You will learn how to be independent and learn how to love being alone and you will learn how to love yourself through this process. You will become close with your siblings. You will save a ton of money and that within itself makes community college worth it. (Ask anyone who’s in debt) You are making the right choice when you choose a community college and that’s coming from a student who hated it.
I may have hated my community college experience, but I would not take back what I learned from it for anything. I don’t want to seem as if I’m bashing on CCAC because I’m thankful for this experience and I highly recommend attending a community college, just know what to expect and make the best of it so you can be out on time. I’m proud to have my first degree from CCAC. It opened doors for me that I never imagined would be possible and it will for you too. The community college stigma is not true, it’s the same courses and transfers exactly the same. They’re not “easier” because it’s community college, they’re just cheaper. You are not less because you went to a community college. CCAC brought me to blogging, which has my whole heart. Don’t be ashamed to be a community college student, don’t feel you have to explain it to anyone. I have one degree and I’m not in any debt. I’m excited to be moving on to the next and blessed to be able to save money through the process. I am proud of myself and worked hard to be where I am at. School is tough, life is tough, but you can do anything you put your mind to. I’m thankful for the experience and the great people I did meet along the way. Congrats to the classes of 2018, here’s to the future, here’s to our future. I’m moving onto the next chapter and I hope you’re ready for the rest of my story.
My favorite professors at CCAC: Laurie Sprankle, Stephen Wells, and Veena Venugopal.
I know I said I’d make this short, but it’s been awhile since I last wrote to you all and I tend to get carried away. I missed blogging and I’m so happy to be finally writing this long overdue post. I truly hope you enjoyed my raw honesty about my experience and if you have any AT ALL questions at all do not hesitate to ask me. I will tell you the absolute truth and will do anything to help any of my readers. I’m welcoming in summer with wide arms and allowing this to be my fresh start to blogging. That’s all in today’s post. Thank you so much for reading all the way through. I love you all. My thankfulness for your support through my break is endless. Don’t forget to leave links to your blogs and instas, as I would love to check them out and follow Y’all and connect more. As always, feel free to shoot me a message with blog requests, to chat, or share a simple comment. Sending lots of love and positive thoughts to you guys now and always. Xoxo.