Junior college isn’t the worst decision

By Tyler Dixon

High school graduation is one of the most exciting times in a person’s life, but it could also be the scariest.

The constant questions about future plans and where one is going to college becomes annoying to the point where we tell people whatever we think they want to hear.

With the pressure students feel about preparing for college during their last two years of high school, most don’t consider any other option besides a university.

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For me, staying in Illinois was vital, due to in-state tuition, so Eastern Illinois University, Northern Illinois University and SIU were options. Most of my friends wanted to go to the University of Missouri or Southeast Missouri State University, but those schools weren’t really feasible for me.

About 10 miles from my hometown was Shawnee Community College, a two-year junior college. The normal thoughts ran through my head about how I was settling to go to a junior college when having the option to go to a university like everyone else. I was already accepted to SIU and that was going to be the plan. The day after receiving my acceptance letter, I found out about an academic scholarship I had received to Shawnee. The scholarship ended up paying for my two years at SCC, which was extremely beneficial.

Shawnee was basically a big high school. It was only one building and if it took longer than three minutes to get from class to class then it was obvious you were lost. The biggest classroom at Shawnee held around 30 people. Freshmen classes at universities could easily have more than 100 students and the professor has no idea who is in his or her class and why they are there. In contrast, professors at Shawnee actually knew their students and knew what their plans were after they left.

Junior college can be ideal for athletes as well. Some don’t have the ability or the option to go to a bigger school, but playing at a two-year school can open doors for them. The level of competition isn’t as high but it could help the transition for a player that just isn’t ready to make the leap to a bigger program.

Going to Shawnee was one of the best decisions I have ever made. I wasn’t the best student in high school and didn’t know the time commitment college would need. Shawnee helped the transition and helped instill the skills needed to excel at a university.

Another perk of community college was taking core classes and being able to focus on my major when I came to SIU. Before SIU, I had not taken any journalism classes and have been able to focus on my major since I transferred here.

The friends that I made at SCC are some of the best friends I have today and they can relate to the transfer-student life as well.

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On the other hand, I haven’t had the normal college experience. I went to junior college in a cornfield, and I didn’t go to bars as a freshman or even a sophomore. Hearing about people’s crazy stories about how they went to every bar in Carbondale in one night sounds great, but I wouldn’t change the experiences I have had. Focusing on school and work has been at the forefront since my time at SIU.

When looking back, going to junior college wasn’t only good at the time; it was also good for the future.

Tyler Dixon can be reached at [email protected]an.com, @tdixon_de on Twitter or 536-3311 ext. 282.

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