York Technical College
"Technical college has taught me that it's okay to be outside the box and stretch my creative freedoms."
I moved to South Carolina when I was seven and later went to public high school. After graduation, I applied for Winthrop in Rock Hill. I got accepted, but financial issues stood in my way. I knew I could afford technical college, however, so I decided to go to York Tech because they had a good transfer program. I originally planned to move on to a four-year school, but while I was at Tech I ended up changing my major to something they offered and decided to stay.
This is my story of making smart financial decisions to explore my passions.
What are some of the obstacles you overcome along the way?
My parents have always said that they wouldn’t contribute massive amounts to my continued education. They would help where they could, but if it was something I really wanted, I knew I had to pay for it myself.
Even with financial aid, I couldn’t afford a four-year tuition, but knew I could handle technical college tuition. This seemed like a good solution because I would get a lot of the same education with much less taken out of my wallet.
Right now I’m in a Teleproductions Technology course. When I finish in the fall, I’m going to have a degree, and will most likely start out in newscasting. I like being behind the camera rather than in front of it. Long-term, I would like to get into film and do camera work, post-production editing or making rigs and sets for films.
What excites you most about your future?
Technical college prepares you for the real-life side of things. I’ve had a different experience than someone who has gone to a four-year just because I don’t stay on campus or anything like that, but with technical college, you are more prepared to enter your working life. I’m definitely excited for my transition into the working world. I’m also excited I’m going to be doing something I want to do versus something I feel stuck doing.
Share a little bit about what has stood out during your technical college experience?
People talk down on technical colleges because they don’t have some of the big stuff four-year schools typically do, but it has been a wonderful experience. I’ve met some fantastic people and I’ve had fantastic teachers who have prepared me for the future.
My current professor, Shahram Mazhari, is one of the most fantastic human beings I’ve ever met in my life. He is so empathetic and cares deeply about each of his students. I don’t know if I could find that level of support somewhere else. Technical college has been more of a tight-knit community than a larger school.
My speech professor was also fantastic. She taught us about more than just speech. She taught us about life experiences where we could use our speaking skills. I feel like a lot of professors are good at adapting their skill and core sets to real-life situations, and that is really helpful for our futures.
You talk about the misperception of technical college. Did you also have some of those misperceptions? How did they change over time?
Yes. I definitely heard misperceptions all the time in middle and high school. People said, “Oh, you don’t want to go to a technical college because they are not as good.” Once I started taking my courses, though, I didn’t see how it would be different anywhere else. The quality was the same.
What have you learned about yourself along the way?
I learned that I can be more creative than I thought. Public school forces you to sit in a box and stay within that box. Technical college has taught me that it’s okay to be outside the box and stretch my creative freedoms.
What advice would you give to other high schoolers thinking about what path to take for their future?
Technical college is definitely something everybody should look into instead of just hopping on the four-year track. I’d tell them to take into consideration how much debt they want following them around throughout their lives. You don’t want to be stuck paying off student loans when you’re 50 or 60 years old. You want to live your life, but not dig a hole that you have to climb your way out of.
It’d also tell them that just because technical college seems easier to get into doesn’t mean that it’s worse than a four-year school. The education you receive is comparable, but you don’t have to drain your bank account to get it. Obviously, four-year schools are fantastic. You can get a lot of great experiences there, but I think it’s smart to start at a technical college, then go over to a four year of your choice. It’s a different experience, but I think it’s worth it.