Niche Resources

How 3 Years Of Community College Taught Me More Than 4 Years Of High School

This post is from a student, parent, or professional contributor. The opinions expressed by the author are their own and do not necessarily reflect the positions, viewpoints, or policies of Niche.

A picture pointing down on a sidewalk. On the concrete are the words "passion led us here" in red. Two people stand in front of the words and their shoes and legs are visible.

For me, high school was not the highlight of my life or educational career. I wasn’t particularly involved, my classes were not engaging, and I honestly felt okay to be an “average” student.

When I began community college, I made it my mission to change that. I’m happy to say that I have learned more from those three years of community college than all my years of high school. Here is what I learned:

1. How to take initiative in my schoolwork

In high school, most of the courses I took were required, so I did not take initiative to do my best on assignments. Once I got to college, I selected courses  that were not only useful for my intended major but also interesting and exciting to me. As a result, I worked harder to complete assignments, participate in class, and attend consistently.

Because of this, my GPA reflected my abilities, and I was able to redeem myself from my high school performance. I graduated high school with a 3.0 GPA, but I graduated from community college Magna Cum Laude with a 3.7 GPA.

2. How to prioritize my mental health 

Going to college, whether it be a community college or an Ivy League school, is not easy.

During my time in college, I had my fair share of meltdowns, depressive moments, and anxiety. I learned not how to necessarily eliminate them but manage them. While it was not easy, I learned coping techniques to help settle my stress when those moments arise.

High school is stressful in its own way, but teachers rarely talk about how to cope with anxiety and stress with their students. In college, most if not all of my professors were open to talking about mental health during and after class.

Why You Should Attend Community College First

3. How to get outside of my comfort zone

In high school, I was surrounded by the same people in the same classes day in and day out. I didn’t have many opportunities I was interested in to get involved. When I came to college, more opportunities for me surfaced without me feeling like the odd one out. The welcoming atmosphere made it easier to get involved.

Once I joined my first organization at community college my first semester, it took that one baby step for me to gain more confidence. I went from joining one organization to joining multiple while being a full-time student and working a part-time job.

4. How to balance school, work, and extracurricular activities

It wasn’t until college when I had to juggle work, school, and extracurriculars at the same time. In high school, classes and extracurriculars are structured in a predictable way. In college, class times, activities, and job requirements vary depending on the day, week, and semester!

I learned how to balance all of this the hard way when I consistently felt burnt out during my second year of community college. Having these moments taught me how to eliminate clubs and other non-essential activities that were impacting my academics. It’s okay to say no to things!

5. How to create opportunities for myself

In high school, I found it challenging to find and create opportunities to grow and get outside my shell. College has taught me that nothing is handed to you. If you want to find scholarships, organizations, and opportunities, it must come from you. 

It does require work and energy to apply to those scholarships, internships, leadership positions, and jobs, but it is worth it in the end. The reason I have my jobs, internships and leadership positions is because I reached out to people and got outside my shell. Sending that one email or direct message can make the difference between getting that opportunity or not.


High school helped me figure out what I want to study to some extent, but attending community college has been a valuable and formative experience in which I learned how to take initiative and prioritize.

The Ultimate College Application Timeline

Author: Nicholas Enoch

Nicholas is a sophomore International Relations and Professional Writing major currently attending Goucher College in Towson, Maryland. He is a recent graduate from the Community College of Baltimore County where he received multiple full ride awards to colleges across Maryland. When he is not making content for Niche, he is busy learning 4 languages, binge watching TV shows on Hulu, and working out and trying new yoga exercises in his living room.