COM-ward Bound

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COM-ward Bound

Olivia Merriman

Like many seniors at the start of the school year, I began the process of applying to college. I figured out early on that the public school system had set me up to go to College of Marin (COM). I don’t believe COM or other community colleges are bad options, but it isn’t fair that I am expected to limit myself to just one option.

As a student with learning disabilities, I am often underestimated by teachers and my peers. Community colleges are more flexible with modified transcripts, and people may believe I won’t be able to handle the change and stress of a four-year university. But having community college be one of the only options ever mentioned to me felt like another way I was underestimated and dismissed by others.

In middle school, almost everyone starts taking a foreign language class. Instead of being put into one of these classes, I was put into Academic Workshop, a class that helps students with learning differences organize and complete their work. I was told, “You don’t have to do a language because you are in Academic Workshop.” The school didn’t ask me about my plans for the future.

No one told me or my parents that not having room in my schedule for a foreign language would limit my college options. Many colleges make it a requirement to have taken a foreign language. Just today, the day before I was going to apply, I found out that UCs and CSUs are not an option for me.  

I think it is absolutely unfair that kids like me don’t have the option to apply to any school we want, just like anyone else. Some of the required classes were not available to us or even offered as an option. Throughout this process, my mom and I have had to contact each school I’m applying to and explain to them why I didn’t take certain classes. I have worked super hard to get through high school. Just because I needed extra help along the way doesn’t mean I don’t deserve the same opportunities as my peers.

COM was mentioned to me so many times that it got to the point where if one more person even brought it up, I felt like I was going to scream. I strongly believe that the colleges in the United States, and especially here in California, need to provide more equal and fair opportunities.

As I continue to apply, I not only see it as a huge accomplishment for me, but also as a big “I told you so.” I’m showing the system and everyone who believed I would just go to COM that I can do more, that I can apply to college. I will keep community college as an option if all else fails, or if it seems to be the best choice for me after I apply to four-year schools. I may not get into any of the schools I apply to, but at least I can say that I tried.