As student-athletes, we all have dreams of pursuing a collegiate career at large universities. But Junior and Community Colleges often times are able to provide very similar athletic and academic opportunities with sometimes even more benefits.
When we think about the perfect college for us, I am sure the big names pop-out of your mind; Stanford, Georgia, maybe Oklahoma. But have you ever thought about a different option, such as a Junior College? Sometimes the right fit for you is the least conventional answer.
Some might be asking “what is a Junior College”? If you are thinking about going to a four-year institution, but are worried you might not be ready for university-level studies, going to a junior or community college first might help you gain confidence and learn advanced study skills. If your career needs only a two-year degree, a junior or community college can give you that with a smaller investment than you would make in a university. So basically, other than semantics, there is no major difference between a Junior or Community College and other universities.
Unfortunately, there are many stigmas connected to Junior Colleges, such as poor educational opportunities, unsuccessful admittance into larger universities, vocational or technical training, and the most common “successful people only attend prestigious colleges”.
The reality is very different, many junior colleges around the country have so much more to offer between financial and developmental benefits. Many of which can be available within your own community. Allow me to demystify these ideas about Junior College for you. There are many benefits you should take into account before you discard this possibility:
- Affordability - Junior Colleges tend to be less expensive and accessible, plus they have smaller classes with a more personalized experience.
- Convenience - You may want to stay close to home or a particular area.
- Development - As a student-athlete, you might want to work on your level and reach your fullest potential to transfer to a top-notch 4-year college.
- Language Adaptation - If you are an International Student and you are not completely comfortable with your level of English, Junior College is a great opportunity to work on those skills while competing at a high-level.
- Transfer Process - Transfering from a Junior College, especially as a student-athlete, gives you a higher chance to be accepted. The results in colleges combined with a good GPA can put you ahead of many freshmen.
If you believe that “no one successful ever came out of a Junior or Community College”, then let me showcase just a few names that turned out to be very successful in different fields of industries.
In the film industry, most likely you have heard the following names: Tom Hanks (Chabot College), Morgan Freeman (Los Angeles City College), Eddie Murphy (Nassau Community College). You may think this only applies to the actors. On the contrary, many successful business owners went to Community College as well such as Steve Jobs (De Anza Community College), Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (Miami Dade College), “Star Wars” creator George Lucas (Modesto Junior College), and even Eileen Collins, former NASA astronaut and the first woman to pilot a space shuttle (Corning Community College). Attending a Junior College does not mean you will not be successful or will have less opportunity. Rather, it could be the first step towards your long-term goal.
Finally, there are many of you who would like to pursue a career in sports and believe that Junior College is not the right path for you. However, there are many superstar athletes that got their start playing at Community Colleges. In the MLB stars Jorge Posada (Calhoun Community College) and Albert Pujols (Maple Woods Community College). In the NFL there’s Dallas Cowboy Guard Larry Allen (Butte College) and Green Bay Packers QB Aaron Rodgers (Butte College). And in the NBA we have Miami Heat forward-center Chris Andersen (Blinn College) and small forward Jae Crowder (South Georgia Technical College).
Ultimately, if you still think Junior College is not the right fit for you, I understand. Just keep in mind all the amazing benefits and opportunities that they can still offer for often much less money. Many great leaders have taken this step forward and headed to a very bright future. Be open about all the possibilities, and discover the main priorities of you and your family.
Written by Nathalia Sato