Opinion: Community college isn't second tier; it helped me succeed
It bothers me when people think of community college as a second-tier option or backup plan. Whether straight out of high school or after a long break from education, community college is a place where hundreds of thousands of Texans go to work toward their dreams. As a new Commission on Community College Finance meets at the Texas Capitol to take a fresh look at how our state funds community colleges, I encourage appointed members to listen to the stories and suggestions of students like me so that others can thrive as I have.
Graduating from high school, I was already living alone trying to make my way through life. I got into a four-year college and began a major in behavioral neuroscience. I took 16 hours of classes each week on top of my full-time job. Even stretching myself so thin, I loved what I was doing. I worked hard and knew that every action I took was in service of my future and for that, I'd do anything.
But life happens, and many students like me get thrown off the course we have planned. After my first year of college, the pandemic hit, and things got bleak. My phone and laptop broke, so I had no way to communicate or complete my virtual assignments. I acquired a laptop and a new phone near the end of the semester, but the setback forced me to drop half of my classes and barely skid by the classes I had left.
Meanwhile, my tuition had gone up by $4,000 for the coming semester and left me doubting myself. Why was I being asked to pay more when I had been working so hard?
The truth is that those unfortunate circumstances are a part of everyday life for people across Texas. We as a state cannot allow ourselves to identify our lives as a problem, but rather focus on tough circumstances as a time in which we can strive for improvement.