Opinion: Community college doesn’t mean losing your social life


There’s a multitude of social experiences available to community college students – including a good conversation on the lawn. (File photo)

Justina Sharp

You can make new friends anywhere – a grocery store, the library, a party. There’s no real reason “school” can’t be on that list, just because “school” is a community college.

It’s a bigger pond, to be sure, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t other fish, or that they aren’t as easy to come by.

“When you’re out of high school, you’re out of that little friend zone, where everyone has their own cliques,” says Anna Kolsenik, an English major. “In college, those cliques kind of disintegrate.”

The cliques may have disappeared, but a lot of students usually find themselves naturally grouping by interest, formally or informally.

Kevin Yamagata, a computer sciences major, believes that it can seem harder to form the kind of life-long friendships one associates with college on American River College’s campus because there’s such a diversity of educational experience.

But that can mean that once a student finds other students with the same kind of course load, it’s easier to fall in together.

“The more units you take, the more you’re here, the more you desire a sense of kinship.” said Yamagata. “Because people have a mentality of ‘I have to be here all the damn time’, and you want someone to drink coffee with. (When) you’re on your third five hour energy, you want to feel that kinship.”

In traditional four-year colleges, you have a lot of built in social experiences. Some are more obvious like extracurricular clubs, and the greek system, while others are less immediate, like school spirit.

“I think there’s an extra pressure when you’re in a university setting, to join a fraternity, join some clubs, root for your football team, wear the shirts, you know.” said Yamagata. “Sort of perpetuating the pride that comes with the more ‘big boy’ colleges. I think just from that stems a social pressure to meet others.”

Some students just aren’t feeling that pressure at all – they feel like it’s not worth the effort of pursuing and maintaining relationships, because community college is more of an anonymous experience than a four-year.

“I just don’t really see the point,” said Jacob Angleman, a physical education major. “We’re all going to leave in one or two years so it doesn’t really matter if I make friends or anything.”

Yamagata feels like this line of thinking isn’t entirely wrong – a positive college experience can’t just happen, it has to be worked on.

“I feel like the population of people who take it all seriously, at a community college, is so much smaller,” said Yamagata.
So maybe it’s not about finding more fish in this school – but looking for ones swimming on your current.