CCC Student Reflects on College and His “High School Mindset”

By Ronvel Sharper

We’re taught from a young age by parents, teachers, even neighbors how important college is, but we’re not prepared for what it’s really like.

We hear so much about what a great experience college is but little about how it differs from high school or how much more challenging it can be, especially compared with an “easy” school such as Richmond High where it supposedly doesn’t take much to graduate.

During my time there, I heard only a few whispers about how college is a whole new grind. Regardless, I was not deterred, and during my senior year, I was accepted to a California State University.

I ended up not being able to go because I could not afford the orientation fee, so I enrolled at Contra Costa College instead. I have been here for nearly three years now, and I’m in my final semester.

During my first semester at Contra Costa College, I still had a high school mindset. My head was not all that into the game because I kind of just breezed through high school, so I thought college would be the same.

Well, in my experience, there did not seem to be much of a difference. My teachers all had their own personality; we had the strict ones, the ones who really wanted you to pass their class, the ones who seemed to be playing favorites, etc. During that first semester, I really did not like my English and math classes.

I would work all night on English papers only to get a D, at best. Every time she would say “Oh, you did not follow the prompt,” but every time I swear that I did. Eventually, she flat out told me to drop the class. That made my heart drop, I kid you not. I decided to stick with it, to keep doing my best and try for a C. Well, I ended up getting a D+ and had to retake the class.

My math class was the total opposite. My teacher was a stand up guy. He would take time in class and after hours to help you understand. I was the issue this time; math was never my thing. I have always felt like no matter how hard I tried, I just couldn’t get it. Despite my teacher’s best efforts to help me out, I ended up with a huge F on my transcript. I got an A and C in my other two classes that semester.

After that disaster of a college debut, I decided to do my best to get better grades. So I shaped up, and after much mental preparation, I ditched most of my happy-go-lucky attitude towards my academic life.

I’ve become more serious, and as a result, I aced both semesters of 2018 with academic honors. During Spring 2019, I had a bit of trouble with the return of math class along with biology. I finished in good standing overall, but I failed math again.

Fall 2019 … now that was definitely one of my best semesters. I met some good people, worked under a lot of pressure and prevailed and finally overcame the evil that is math! I could not have done it without my math teacher who convinced me to get tutoring and helped me change my mindset.

Now, here I am, in my last semester at CCC. Honestly, pre-COVID-19 school was so much fun. Although the campus is not too big, there are still so many people from so many backgrounds. That adds to the charm because there’s always someone new to chat up, always a new friend to meet. Not only that, but the instructors are super cool and dynamic as well. I never had a boring day at school, and I always walked home with a smile.

Nowadays, however, with the campus closed due to the coronavirus, school is just so boring. It’s the same thing with each class: Hop on Zoom, listen to the teacher read a presentation, then discuss what was taught to us. I took online classes in 2018, so I don’t really mind them. I wanted to take all my classes now in person so I can truly live out my last semester. But now, it just feels like I am just in a routine.

I also liked going to school because I like being alone sometimes, in my own thoughts. Being home lately has made me realize just how noisy and small my house is. I feel trapped and like I’m totally burning up.

Looking back, community college and high school do feel similar in certain ways, but I see now how different their approaches are. After all, in high school, you can pretty much just wing it, and a community college will accept you, even if you don’t do well. But, when you hit community college, whether you’re going for an associate’s degree or to transfer, you have got to work for it. You have to study hard and do your best; otherwise the educational system will chew you up and spit you out.


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