Rachel Coonan

Being a homebody, Rachel Coonan said she was “not ready to be thrown into a four-year school” after graduating from Fallston High School. With her parents’ support, she followed in her older brother’s footsteps and decided to attend Harford Community College.

Before beginning her first semester, she was questioning her decision about whether or not she should have gone away to school like so many of her friends. But Harford was the perfect fit for Rachel. “At HCC, I am not just a number. My instructors know my face and my name,” she said. Rachel was surprised at how much she liked being here, and she enjoyed her classes even though they were hard and nothing like the ones she took in high school.

“I believe that starting out at a community college is a good decision. It is a totally smart choice, especially if you’re unsure of what you want to do. You can take different classes, experiment, and see what you like. I know lots of people who started at universities, changed their major a few times, and wasted a lot of money,” she said.

Rachel said she had good instructors who encouraged her and made learning interesting, and she especially enjoyed taking classes from those with real world experience who brought a different perspective to the table. She was impressed that instructors went the extra mile by doing such things as holding study groups on weekends or giving students a personal email address in case they had questions.

In addition, she liked having older students in her classes and felt they brought an interesting outlook -- often a different point of view -- from students her own age. Since some of them had been in the workforce, she felt it was very beneficial to listen to what they had to say.

Right from the start, Advising did a great job preparing her for degree completion. She said her advisor Mary Austin was amazing, and Rachel was very appreciative that the two of them worked together to develop a plan that included selecting all the courses she would need.

Rachel, who is currently working at the Bel Air Athletic Club, is majoring in Business Administration and plans to graduate in May 2014. She would like to transfer to the University of Maryland to complete her bachelor’s degree. One day she hopes to pursue a career selling medical equipment.