COMMUNITY COLLEGE: WHY THE BAD REP?
So there I was, contentedly leafing through a local school district’s newsletter when I came across an article about a high school junior
who recently took a college entrance exam
. The student, let us name her Mary, never thought herself capable of attending a four-year college before taking the exam and receiving an acceptable score: with the grades she had, Mary was convinced she was heading straight for community college. Needless to say, Mary thought the idea was horrible.Why do community colleges
have such a bad rep? There are so many benefits to attending one.
Let us start with the obvious one: money. For a St. Louis
resident, one three-credit course at Meramec
is $270 or so. One course at Saint Louis University
is $590. Did that say one course? Oops, should have said one credit. Yep, you read that right. C-R-E-D-I-T. Multiply that by three.
The score is 1-0, with community college in the lead.
Next, the quality of education: what Meramec offers is simply excellent. The professors are knowledgeable and really committed to education. They really know their stuff. As someone who is a graduate of a four-year private university in the heart of New York City
, a university in the top 50 schools in the country, by the way, I am fully qualified to compare. Meramec’s professors are not in any way less capable, competent or skilled than their four-year counterparts. Trust me. By the way, many Community College
professors teach at four-year universities at the same time. Simultaneously. Same semester. So, a student at a community college gets a four-year university knowledge for a fraction of the price.
College should be about experimentation, figuring out not only what one’s profession could be, but more importantly figuring out whom one is. Who does not have a friend or two who started out with one major to realize two semesters in there is not enough money in the world to pay them to continue majoring in THAT? With an array of courses on a multitude of subjects colleges offer, getting to “know thyself”, as Socrates recommended, can get pretty pricey. What better place to do it if not at a community college where the smorgasbord of courses and the price just cannot be beat? If you do not agree do the math.
Many claim community colleges are for the intellectually lazy; for losers who will never be good enough for a four-year university and who will end up pumping gas for someone someday. Well, there are many who attended very expensive universities and who majored in Bud and Weed (Ben and Sophie, mommy did NOT inhale!) and who have nothing to show for it but a very expensive tuition bill; a bill they will still be paying when their own children are in college. Oh yeah, one more thing: It is much better to do poorly at a four-year university than to be an Honors Scholar at a community college. After all, geography is what really matters, right?What’s the score so far?
Let us get back to money. A significant number of students on Meramec’s campus attend community college with the intention of transferring to a four-year university. The courses offered at Meramec enable one to get general education requirements out of the way so when these students transfer to a university they enter as juniors and can get right into their major. That means the four-year college tuition is slashed in half. And when they graduate from that four-year university, the diploma does not say: “BA from so-and-so university (with the first two years in a community college)”.
Most of you already are fully aware of the benefits community college education offers. Just in case you need to defend yourself against those attacking your choice of educational institution, you may use this article as ammunition. Feel free to fire back with any of the information or statistics provided above. Or, as a last resort, you may roll up my very prestigious university diploma and hit them over the head with it to beat some sense in. Go ahead! It would be an honor.