Today: Apr 14, 2024

Transitioning from a two-year to a four-year university

Brandon Cortés – Contributor

On May 26, 2023, I found myself in a state of uncertainty regarding my future. Having completed my associate degree, I sat on my bed gazing at my diploma, which bore my name and degree in elegant script. Little did I know that my journey to a four-year university was about to commence. I could not help but pause and reflect on the path that had led me to this moment- a moment when I questioned my decisions and pondered if I had made the right choices for my future.  

My journey into the world of post-high school higher education was unconventional, driven by financial considerations and a lack of direction upon graduating from high school during the tumultuous year of COVID-19. Looking back on that journey with the wisdom of the present, I can confidently say that it was the best decision I ever made. 

Let us rewind to where it all began. 

After withdrawing from the University of Bridgeport before the fall semester of 2020, I took a six month break to reflect on my life’s direction. During those initial months, I searched for an affordable university, unwilling to accumulate a mountain of student debt that many others faced. I was not one to follow the crowd. After several months of searching, I stumbled upon community colleges. The idea of pursuing a pre-university education without the burden of tuition costs was enticing, and it provided the perfect opportunity to continue my academic journey. 

In 2021, I enrolled at Housatonic Community College to study journalism. The classrooms were small, and my fellow students were mostly in their late twenties and early thirties, all seeking higher education to find purpose and direction in their lives, much like me. I was the lone 18-year-old among individuals with far more life experience. Initially, I felt apprehensive, but as I interacted with my older peers, I gained valuable insights into life.  

Unlike traditional four-year universities where students are predominantly in their early twenties and are still getting out from their shells, community colleges attract a diverse group of individuals from various backgrounds. I encountered people from different economic, financial and sociocultural backgrounds, which provided an enriching learning experience. I even met a remarkable 62-year-old woman pursuing her education at Housatonic, a testament to the boundless nature of learning. The small class sizes allowed for personalized attention from professors, and the low textbook costs made it an economical choice for those seeking a degree. 

Upon transitioning to the university, I encountered my first “culture shock”. The campus was larger, bustling with more students, a wide array of academic programs and a fully stocked library. However, unlike Housatonic, which was a mere four-minute commute from my home, the university was nearly an hour away. Thus, my daily routine involved taking a train and a bus, a practice I have faithfully followed ever since. 

My academic journey has been marked by a series of unconventional decisions that led me from uncertainty to confidence, from a community college to a four-year university. The path I chose, motivated by financial prudence and a desire for a diverse and enriching educational experience, has proven to be the right one for me. The challenges and differences I encountered at each stage have not only enriched my education but also broadened my perspective on life itself. 

As I continue my studies at the university, I embrace the opportunities and challenges that await me. I am grateful for the wisdom and camaraderie I have gained from my fellow students, particularly those I met during my time at Housatonic Community College, where the pursuit of knowledge knows no age or limits. 

In this ever-evolving journey through academia, one thing remains certain: the quest for knowledge, the exploration of diverse perspectives and the pursuit of personal growth are timeless endeavors. My story, like many others, is a testament to the importance of carving our own paths and learning from the unexpected detours. 

While I may not know precisely what the future holds, I can affirm that my academic journey has instilled in me the confidence to face it with resilience, adaptability and an unwavering commitment to lifelong learning. With this, I move forward with hope, determination and the belief that every step taken on this educational voyage has been and will continue to be, the best decision of my life. 

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