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Community College Success Stories: Strive to Learn Staff

Did you know that several of the tutors and college counselors at Strive to Learn also attended community college? That’s right: the staff have shown that you can make the most out of your community college experience and have great success after!

Josefine Borrmann, Founder of Strive to Learn

Josefine, the founder of Strive to Learn, transferred in 2009. Although she had a full-ride at another university, she decided to attend community college because she wasn’t fulfilled by her college experience. As an international student, she didn’t feel the stigma that many students feel when entering community college. Community college was just another (cheaper) way to get a quality education. She made her time at Santa Monica College valuable by becoming involved in student government and organizations, making her a strong applicant for universities. Once she did transfer, she was delighted by all the increased opportunities for research, but overall found that her experience at community college wasn’t particularly lacking. And by having the opportunity to attend different colleges, she had a more diverse experience that granted her new maturity and perspective in life.

Just like at a university, opportunities will come to those who are willing to put in the work.

Looking back, her advice to those considering community college is to treat it the same as a 4-year university by being proactive about seeking out opportunities and engagement. She also recommends that people take advantage of the opportunity to graduate with significantly less (or no) debt. As university becomes more expensive, there are less opportunities to cut costs for middle class Americans; by attending a community college, you instantly save on 2 years of college. This provides more incentive to pursue higher education, travel, volunteer, and generally take the time to enjoy your life and find what you love to do.

Luc, Tutor in Math, Sciences, Economics, and Test Prep

Luc, a Strive to Learn tutor who transferred in 2017, feels similarly. Although he thought he would experience stigma about attending community college, he found his experience to be really easy-going. This is true for a lot of people, because once you’re there you realize how many high-achieving people choose that path--especially now. Although the resources were limited at his community college (an experience many will face compared to their universities), he ultimately feels that his time at a community college was worth it and wishes that he had chosen to do so sooner.

Ashley, Tutor in Chemistry

Ashley, who transferred in 2018, decided to attend community college because she hadn’t found the right major for her yet. In community college, she didn’t have to worry about wasting tons of money on classes that she didn’t care for or on a major she wasn’t passionate about. Her biggest issue with community college was that academic counselors sometimes struggled to help make a transfer plan.

This is why it’s really important to learn about the different resources available to create a transfer plan; if you know what you’re looking for and generally how to get there, the academic counselors will have an easier time giving you guidance. And although there were better resources at her 4-year, she ultimately felt that the smaller setting of her community college felt more approachable and less isolating. As you can see, the 4-year experience isn’t the most fulfilling for everyone! It’s good to have some variety in your college experience where you can meet new types of people and gain some perspective before you get to that 4-year.


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