What we miss (and don't) about community college

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APRIL 11, 2013

It’s been almost a year since the transfer class of 2014 was admitted to Cal. The agonizing wait was finally over. We were done with community college! Senioritis kicked in a little early (transfer-itis?) as we prepared to leave our little lower-division haven — or hell — and enter the sprawling campus of UC Berkeley.

There were plenty of things we didn’t like about community college, but looking back, there were also a few things that we appreciated. We weren’t at a top public university, but it was home to us. Obviously, it was time to leave, but here’s what we kind of miss — and don’t miss — about community college.


  • Miss: We were somewhere where everyone knew our name. Having counselors and advisers that knew us on a personal level was reassuring when picking out classes or looking for internship opportunities. Sure, our academic adviser in community college might have been our career counselor and the school nurse as well, but who doesn’t want their resume looked over while getting their temperature taken? It definitely beat having to walk forever just to get from one office to another.
  • Dis: The shortage of staff was frustrating. There were always those counselors or professors who weren’t very helpful. If they were the only people available to talk about our Berkeley application or to teach algebra, we were stuck with them until we figured out how to maneuver our own way.


  • Miss: In Berkeley, most of us have two modes of transportation: a) walking or b) public transportation. While we did have to hike from our cars every morning at community college, that was nothing compared to the amount of walking we do here. And AC Transit can be great, but sometimes we miss the independence that came with driving a car.
  • Dis: Depending on the community college, the commute to school could be hit or miss, whether it was because of traffic, paying for parking or just finding parking. Now that we’re here, we don’t really miss using our cars on a daily basis. The many different AC Transit routes and rider passes available to all students make it easy to go anywhere in the East Bay. Instead of worrying about studying while driving our 45-minute commute, we can actually study on the bus.


  • Miss: Paying very little for classes — need we say more?
  • Dis: Sitting in classes with people who weren’t passionate about school in the same way we were. Or people who made class presentations that had absolutely nothing to do with the class content. Or people who walked in on the day of the midterm and were astonished there was a midterm at all. Community college is relatively inexpensive. There was basically no admissions process, and with that comes some people who don’t care that they’re wasting our time.

“Finding” yourself

  • Miss: With unit caps and the rush to fulfill core requirements, our time at Cal feels fleeting.  No need to hit the ground running with a four-year plan in community college; we could just ease ourselves into academia. If we found out we hated English literature and teaching but loved organic chemistry and wanted to be a pharmacist, we could switch. In community college, the cost of tuition allowed for us to take time figuring out what they wanted from school.
  • Dis: Some of us picked our major senior year of high school and the only time we thought about switching was when our major prerequisite classes at community college were filling up. We had more time and more money, but if we couldn’t get our classes, our entire path of study would have been defined by an underfunded community college system. We were shocked to find freshmen in upper-division classes at Cal: That wasn’t an option for us when we were 18. There wasn’t a whole lot of variety in classes at community college.

Class registration

  • Miss: Remember when it was our last semester and our college couldn’t wait to get us out of their system? Our last year before transferring was awesome: We got first pick of all our classes because we were assigned the very first day of registration. Compare that to our upcoming senior year at Cal, where some freshmen have a better Tele-BEARS appointment than we do.
  • Dis: All the other years before that last year, when getting classes was a bloodbath, sucked. Our schedules were insane red-eye commutes. We got some classes at 7:30 a.m. We got some classes that went until 10 p.m. Many general education classes had only one section available. Enrolling for classes, a much less fun version of eBay, caused us anxiety.


  • Miss: If we weren’t into sports, we didn’t have to unwittingly support a sports program that wasn’t any good. While our community college may have had a tennis team, or even a football team, there wasn’t a lot of energy or money put into those programs. If we didn’t care, we didn’t feel we had to.
  • Dis: What was our mascot again? The Falcons? The Cougars? The Run-Across-the-Road-Jack Rabbits? And did we ever go to sporting events? Usually not. But everyone knows the Golden Bears, and chances are they’re a fan. Now that we’re at Cal, we can sit with our uncle at Thanksgiving and talk about the finer points of Sonny Dykes’ Bear Raid offense. Searching for a birthday present for someone? Being at a Pac-12 school definitely has its perks, just get them some Cal gear.

Contact Jessica Rogness at  or on Twitter


APRIL 10, 2013

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