Thoughts and Perspectives

14 (And Counting) Reasons To Start At A Community College

Community Colleges are too often considered places to go when you’re not “smart enough” to attend a University. Community Colleges are sometimes looked at with a suspicious eye because not all faculty hold the terminal degree in his/her field and because people don’t really know what they are all about. With President Obama’s wise proposal to make Community College free, the criticisms will likely just increase. Forget such criticisms you’ve heard about Community Colleges. (Be sure to check Professor Lee Hutch’s posting about community colleges, too! This was planned as a tag-team blog!)

As a proud Community College graduate and professor at one, here are 14 reasons why you should strongly consider attending a Community College before attending a University. 

  1. Community Colleges—note the word “community”—are deeply imbedded in the communities which give them tax dollars and students and respond to local needs. 
  1. Community Colleges provide services and classes, credit and noncredit, for individuals of all ages. This brings a special kind of diversity to campuses. (I’ve taught community college classes where 90% of the students were older than me!)
  1. Community College students—because of their interests and work, military, and/or family experiences, for example—bring a special kind of very important talent, experience, and motivation not always seen at Universities. Life experience adds value to everyone’s education! One of my community college professors who graduated from Columbia said community college students are much more creative and original because they didn’t enter life always expecting “greatness.” Community College students have a kind of “unmediated” worldview.
  1. Community College classes are taught by individuals who are experts in their fields. Sometimes even more of an expert because of their dedication to teaching and students.
  1. Community Colleges especially care about quality teaching.
  1. Community College professors almost always teach a variety of classes, making it possible to take the same professor more than once.
  1. Community College students work just as hard, if not harder, than University students. 
  1. Community College students frequently get more meaningful learning opportunities and attention and more rigorous assignments because classes typically range from 20-70, not 150-450+. (A discussion-based class is impossible with 150 students.) 
  1. Community Colleges encourage students and faculty to form bonds outside of the classroom more than seen at most universities. 
  1. Community Colleges allow the possibility that students, faculty, and staff can personally know a variety of students, faculty, and staff—it is a community
  1. Community Colleges understand that education is about much more than formal credits and academic degrees for everyone.
  1. Community Colleges provide numerous scholarships for their students.
  1. Community Colleges are usually much less expensive and provide a quality education. 
  1. Community Colleges are fun.

My path into teaching and professorship is beyond a doubt from having attended a community college and the many personal relationships that resulted.   community-college-t-shirt

 

5 replies »

  1. I agree, I agree, and I agree. But I disagree with #1. I see the CC’s bypassing the community in search of recognition by for dollars from Big Business. In our Houston area, both HCC and LSC look past the actual community for endeavors and partnerships with the big companies, trying to be like UH and other larger systems and having a lot of success doing it. Those two community college systems together claim over 150,000 students and so have the clout to partner with the big boys while overlooking small businesses. I would argue that the community for the most part doesn’t even know what our community colleges do. Unfortunately, we have the lore that community colleges “are easy,” “aren’t real colleges,” and “are like high school.” This reflects a serious disconnect between the colleges and the community and I lay full blame on administrations who hold rich galas every year where neither students nor their families can afford to attend, champagne and fresh salmon missed.

    I want to see the college return to the community — where every class focuses on a community need and addresses it outside the classroom. Then the community will understand who we are and your other points #2-13 will be believed by more.

    BM

    Like

  2. Straight outta high school I went to University of Houston. All my classes were made up of the same demographic, other kids straight out of high school. There were few varying view points, and the experience pool among us was pretty limited.

    Now that I am at a community college, I am able to learn the same amount, if not more, and my classmates come from a much wider range of areas. I think it’s fantastic. My classes are small, comfortable, and I can actually talk to my professor.

    However, the one big thing that’s hard to obtain when your fresh out of high school and starting with a community college is a sense “freedom”. Is saving money on your education worth throwing away that “college experience”?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for sharing your experience, Tim! UH is a huge place! You might really enjoy UHCL after ACC. It’s much more like ACC in terms of diversity and one-on-one interaction with professors. The “college experience” is no one thing, per se. The way movies or pop culture defines it is different than the reality for most students. Community colleges provide a different kind of freedom I suppose. Maybe more of a gradual freedom, if you know what I mean?

      Liked by 1 person

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