I was going to make this week’s post about the challenges of dealing with parents who disallow their kids to consider (much less pursue) the prospect of higher education, or even settle on substandard education for the sake of developing a long-term (and dare I say, short-sighted) plan for their children. In a recent union of one of my CCBC groups, I had an open (and, to me, quite sad) discussion on the challenges of having parents who desire goals for their child, but forsake the goals their child may have instead.

This may be an anomaly in modern times. Which parent does not seek to let their child grow and reach their fullest potential? Don’t all parents want the best for the children, and education is an inherent part of that process?

The answer is, “No. Not every parent.” Some parents are inclined to impose the traditions of their antiquated worldview before the welfare of their children, hoping to provide an immersive experience that is also girded by respect for cultural norms and societal expectations. As Americans, we — the students who currently study right here in the United States — have a quite different social experience than our parents. This is even truer when it comes to immigrant families. Because not only do children of some immigrant parents face accompanying challenging in reconciling their place within our society, but they are also unjustly expected to adhere to the traditional roles envisioned by their parents. I think this choking off of children’s lives brings many harms in the long run, and greatly damages the independence that all of us need to have to fully grow as students and professionals.

But enough of that.

I also had a conversation about transferring. Most of my friends are thinking about transferring sometime next year, and I have been actively encouraging others to consider the prospect of transferring as well. Getting an Associate’s degree is great, but a Bachelor’s is what today’s job market demands. I think to myself, though: are you really in this whole educational experience for the sake of making money? Or are you in it to truly love what you are doing?

So, I actually have a friend who really loves being a nerd but fails to admit it. And convincing them to consider a 4-year has been the hardest thing for me. Funny, isn’t it? There are reasons why you would come to love which you feel is your life’s calling. Until an obstacle comes your way, and you hurt yourself thinking about what to change whatever you can change. 

Sorry if this sounds vague. But I can’t imagine what other students I pass by on my way to classes go through. I am lucky to be encouraged and directed to consider transfer, but I understand such a decision does not comes as easy to others. You may be a female student encumbered by the expectations to “take care of the household” instead of studying. You may be a single parent worrying about how to move up on your job with a 2-year degree than spending another 2 to get a Bachelor’s. You may be a guy who lacks the funds necessary to continue the pace of their CCBC studies, much less take an expensive course of a university.

It is difficult. If you are young, at least you have the possibility of considering a 4-year school. CCBC also has an online transfer center to assist you through the process:

But even when you make up your mind to finally go to the Student Services Center and go see a transfer advisor, your mind is still overtaken by the difficulty of it all. The challenges of applying to a different college while still being buckled up by your courses here at CCBC is a big challenge in itself. Transfer students historically face more difficulties in adjusting to a 4-year school than those who graduate straight out of high school and are privileged to enroll at the 4-year.

What does that make you? Where does that take you? How will you navigate college, if ever?

There is a lot to be uncertain about. But at least, at the very least, turn to those who care about you: that means, turn to your professors, your friends, your nerdy classmates, your advisors, your mentors. And even your parents. Turn to them. Let them know, confidently and openly, that you want to go to college. That is your passion. Getting an education is one of the most important steps in your life. Here is where lives are changed and connections are made. Getting married, making money, and engaging in a full-time career can come after.

My point is: do not ask yourself whether you want to go to a 4-year college if you know in your heart of hearts that you do. Some students at CCBC are working professionals, seeking certifications or training to get a leg up in their present jobs. But others are like me: students who desire to go a 4-year university but face a barrage of obstacles in their personal lives. Coming out of these obstacles requires patience and courage. And small steps will add up to much more than fulfillment. Years from now, we will look back at our college education as one of the best and critical steps we had to take in order to move forward in our lives. I am sure that you miss your high school times. College times will be no different. Our graduations may come and go, but our experiences will never be the same.

This time of the year is the prime time for exploring your college prospects. Transfer fairs were recently held on all main campuses. Hopefully, you got great information from amazing universities in the area. Take the next step and go to Common App or Coalition App. Do the hard work of ensuring your applications are complete. Talk to advisors and/or professors and/of students at the university you like. And then become a student there. CCBC was a stepping stone and it helped you get there. But only you know how much further you can go in your student life.