On May 4, the following statement was posted on the UC Berkeley Confessions Facebook Page. This page is for UC Berkeley students to post confessions, especially during finals, and in the first 19 hours after it was posted, it had already garnered over 75 comments, and several “shares” and “likes.”

“Anyone else wish community college didn’t exist?

I worked my fucking ass off in high school to get to this school while the kids who just fucked around and got C’s and D’s went to community college and were able to transfer in effortlessly.

It’s like what the fuck. Not only do they get to save money on 2 years of tuition but they get to skip out of the lower division weeder courses.

Let’s face it, community college is a joke. All the kids who were too weak to get into a decent university end up going to one. Getting a 4.0 there is like getting a 4.0 taking only English learning disadvantage courses in high school. It’s not impressive in the slightest. UCI/UCD/UCSB/hell even UCR freshman admits blow UC Berkeley transfers out of the water. It’s ridiculous.

I’m not saying transfers shouldn’t attend college. They’re certainly welcome to, but not UC Berkeley. There are thousands upon thousands of colleges throughout the California that they can attend. UC Berkeley should not be one of them. UC Berkeley should be reserved for those who worked hard and beat out much tougher competition to get here. Not beating out a bunch of rejects in community college. Like fuck off.”

As a VERY proud transfer student from Berkeley City College (BCC) and Moorpark Community College, an alumna from UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business, and the Program Coordinator of BCC’s Transfer Service Community, I’d like to address this statement and set the record straight.

It’s disturbing to me (although not surprising) that people agree and believe this statement. My own mother and many people in my community were skeptical of community college, and, before I transferred to Cal, I had to endure the silent judgments, eye rolls, and uncomfortable questions that many people who transfer must endure. Transfer students often face overwhelmingly challenging life experiences, and we don’t all have the same opportunities or privileges that are often associated with freshman admits.

I can confidently state that transfer students did not all receive Cs and Ds in high school, the transfer process is certainly not effortless, and community college is not just for, “All the kids who were too weak to get into a decent university.”

When I applied to Haas, there was a 7% acceptance rate for transfers, compared to a 25% acceptance rate for continuing students, so it’s not an “effortless” endeavor. And, to overcome the bureaucracy and challenges in community college, you can’t be weak. I wouldn’t have even had the opportunity to apply as a freshman.

My road to Cal was not easy. I took the California High School Proficiency Exam (CHSPE) and left high school in 10th grade because my father had dementia, my mother was working, and I was struggling to attend school, balance extracurricular activities, work, and support my family.

I moved up to Berkeley at age 18, just so I could be closer to Haas. I was heavily involved on the BCC campus and in the City of Berkeley, and I helped start an art and culture publication at Cal while working three jobs to support myself. I transferred to Haas, despite the the lack of resources and the terrible advice that I shouldn’t even apply. I worked hard to get to where I am today, and if I hadn’t had the “second chance” that community college provided me, I wouldn’t be a graduate from the Haas School of Business.

For the last four years, I have worked with hundreds of amazing students. I run a program at BCC, called the Transfer Service Community, that supports community college students with transferring and connecting to resources and opportunities to serve their communities. I have met: Veterans, who wouldn’t have had the opportunity to attend Cal, since they were serving our country; parents, who have returned to school after their children are grown or able to enter day care; international students who have left their homes in other countries, traveled across the world, and had to assimilate into a completely new culture and community; and students who are first generation, formerly incarcerated, formerly or currently homeless, former and current foster youth, and victims of abuse.

I have never met a community college student who successfully transferred to Cal who didn’t work themselves to the bone. It is this kind of ignorant, privileged Facebook statement that undermines the hard work and individual experiences of everyone who is in community college and transfers to UC Berkeley.

This student is obviously venting, but they should think twice before sharing such a hurtful and prejudiced statement. Every year I meet recent high school graduates who are embarrassed to be in community college, ashamed that they aren’t somewhere more prestigious, and sure that they will destroy the competition in their classes. Each time they are blown away by the sense of community at BCC, challenged by their professors, and impressed by the brilliant students who have far more life experience and wisdom from overcoming life’s challenges.

Professors, counselors, and administrators at UC Berkeley constantly tell me how much they love transfer students. They say that we are ridiculously hard working, less entitled than freshman admits, and overflowing with rich life experience that we share in the classroom.

I am so proud to be a graduate from UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business, but I am even more proud to say that I started my college career in community college. I wouldn’t change anything about my educational journey, and I hope that, some day, everyone will recognize the value of the community college pathway. I hope that all students embrace their transfer backgrounds and educate people, like the student who wrote the above statement, who have been lucky enough to enter college as freshmen. Everyone has a right to access education at prestigious universities like UC Berkeley. Community college can make that dream a reality. Let’s support everyone in reaching higher education and recognize the value in a community college education.

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Adena Ishii is a Berkeley City College and UC Berkeley alumna. She’s a strong advocate for access to higher education and the community college system.
Adena Ishii is a Berkeley City College and UC Berkeley alumna. She’s a strong advocate for access to higher education and the community college system.