There are a lot of things that aren't shared about going off to college for the first time. Like, what do you do when you're walking down the hall in nothing but a towel after you've showered and there's a group of guys hanging outside someone's door? Do you run to the bus if you're about to miss it, or just wait for the next one in 10 minutes? How do you find a seat in the library without looking like a lost freshman (even though you totally are)? When you go off to college, you learn a lot through experience. Most of it is something you can't learn anywhere else or understand unless you're there. That's why I made the decision to go to a four year right out of high school.
Let me back up by saying that it's pretty normal not to attend a four year right away in my area. It's common for people to go to a two year community college, earn their associates, then transfer to a bigger four year. It's done for many reasons: financial, academic, personal. I knew that it was definitely a possibility after I didn't get into my first choice school (college rejection advice here), but I wanted to have that four year experience, so I attended a four year that I honestly didn't want anything to do with. I gave that school a chance, made some amazing friends, created great memories, and did what I could to become involved on campus, but it wasn't a place I was happy (you can read about that here). I made the choice not to come back, and that might be the best decision I've ever made.
For a long time (and still if I'm feeling sad about school), I felt like a loser for not going back to a four year. I didn't want to look like someone who was dropping out of college, who didn't care, and didn't want to be in school. That's far from the truth. I really, really want a bachelor's degree and to be furthering my education. I know where I want to get and I know that I can't get there without a college degree. I also know that by going to a community college for a year or so, I'll be able to transfer to a school that I'm happy at and feel like I belong, something I didn't feel at my old school.
Leaving my four year has opened up different doors for me. I am now much happier knowing I don't have to go back (I always dreaded going back at the end of the weekend), can get a job since I have transportation (that aren't city busses), and surround myself with people that I love. I'm also saving money and have the time to focus on myself and my happiness more. The downside of community is not having a real college experience or community on campus. The attitude is much different: people don't really care to treat it like a university, since it isn't.
I felt a lot of pressure to stay at my four year because it was a four year, but after making the decision to leave, I feel amazing. I am so much happier and know I can now apply to different schools with a great chance of being accepted. I'm realizing more and more every day that this experience is my experience, and I shouldn't let anyone's negativity change what would make me happy. In order to be the best student I can be, I need to make sure I'm mentally in a great, positive place. That place for me wasn't my four year.