Community College Changed My Mind

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When Youth Radio’s Stella Lau enrolled inn community college, she thought she was falling behind. How wrong she was.

Last year, I lived through every high school senior’s nightmare: I was rejected from all the colleges I applied to. It’s not that I was a bad student. I had tunnel vision, applying only to selective schools. I didn’t consider any alternative.

So when I got rejected, I flew into a panic. I thought there was only one path to success, and I wasn’t on it. While all my friends were picking out twin extra-long sheets, I was left wondering what kind of future I could have.

When my panic subsided, I enrolled in community college. I wasn’t excited. I thought community college would be like a continuation of high school. I imagined janky classrooms with incompetent teachers that lectured their students to sleep. I was so wrong.

My art history professor was so poetic, her lectures felt spoken word. My classmates were intelligent and came from all walks of life -- some still figuring things out, like me.


I decided to gift myself a year of experimentation. Aside from general education, I took a hodgepodge of classes: scriptwriting, figure drawing, portraiture, and ballet. I know it seems like a random assortment of classes, but it allowed me to pinpoint what I like and don’t like.

This year changed my mindset. I used to have this notion that I had to rush in order to achieve a certain level of success by a certain age. But a year of community college has taught me to slow down, silence the comparison monster in my head, and to recognize that things take time to fall into place. I still hope to transfer to a four-year university next year, but I’ll be going about it as a more mature person.

Being around students from all walks from life has made me realize that I’m not late in the game at all. There’s more than one way to get where you want to be.

With a Perspective, I’m Stella Lau.

Stella Lau is 19 and lives in Oakland. Her Perspective was produced by Youth Radio.