Why I Believe In Community College
Community colleges often get a bad rap. And it bothers me. Let me tell you why.
I come from a family that has been heavily committed to community college education for decades. My uncle, a successful attorney, graduated from a community college on his way to law school. Another uncle and aunt, incredibly gifted educators for over 40 years, both graduated from a community college on their way to master’s level degrees. My dad began his undergrad education by graduating from a community college, and then spent the bulk of his career, nearly 40 years, giving his life investing in community college students and faculty in a variety of capacities. I am proud to say that my first degree (A.A. - Associate of Arts) is from a community college. All this to say, I believe strongly that while perhaps not the best option for everyone, community college is a great option for many. Here are a few reasons why I say this:
1. Some of the best classes I have ever taken were at community college. Hands down.
2. Some of the best teachers I have ever had, at any degree level, were at community college.
3. Community college is a fraction of the cost of most 4 year schools and is a great way to get through your first two years of general studies without debt.
4. Professors who teach at these institutions often do so because they care about underserved populations, and they put their whole hearts into it. I loved being part of an institution that believed in “underdogs.” Reminds me a lot of Jesus.
5. The average community college class size ranges from 20-30 students, meaning the likelihood of getting one-on-one time with your professors and having them know who you are is high.
6. Flexibility - 60% of community college students enroll part-time due to family, work, or other obligations. Classes are often scheduled on nights and weekends to help handle the demands of a non-traditional student. Community colleges are more apt to consider that school may not be the only thing a student has on their plate than a four-year institution would.
7. Some people justify disregarding community colleges by saying they want the "college experience," yet you can still get that at the community college level. The community college I attended had as much “on campus” housing and student life as the 4 year school I attended my junior and senior year.
8. I grew in my faith a ton. I was blessed to be part of an amazing college ministry at my community college, which spurred me on in my faith in huge ways. I also had an older professor, who was a pastor in the community, do a Bible study with me each week in his office. It was the first time I really studied Romans in depth. It was life changing for me. It was also one of the greatest discipleship relationships I have ever had.
9. I loved the diversity of students in my classes....ethnically, economically, generationally, etc. In most of my classes I was able to study with single moms, single dads, those from very poor & very wealthy economic backgrounds. Those ranging in age from 18-80! Those who were very successful high school students, and those who struggled but wanted a second chance. You weren’t sitting by many kids who felt “entitled” to a college education. You sat next to many students who were fighting for their education and saw it as a great privilege. I loved this.
10. Graduating with your A.A. is a significant accomplishment and will open many doors, especially for those pursuing vocations that do not necessarily require a Bachelor’s or Master’s level degree.
At the end of the day, I have personally been very blessed to have had amazing educational experiences at the undergrad, graduate, and doctoral levels. But it all began with my first two years at community college. I wouldn’t change my experience for anything. Whoever you are, if getting a college degree is a dream, or a necessary step toward a career you desire to pursue, consider the benefits and blessings of a community college education.
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