The wonder of community college

By Michael Rocha, Contributing Writer

Community college. It really isn’t a sexy name like “Ivy-league school” or “state university”. They aren’t known for those wild parties, or those large sports gatherings on the weekends.

However, what I can tell you is that starting off at a community college may in fact be the best decision in regards to education you’ll ever make.

Jennifer Ma, of College Board wrote, “In fall 2014, 42% of all undergraduate students and 25% of all full-time undergraduate students were enrolled in community colleges.”

Many factors play into the involvement of students applying to community colleges, such as lower tuition, proximity, and convenience to balance between school and outside responsibilities.

The Washington Post reported that in 2015, the average tuition for community college in the United States is about $3400, significantly lower than their university counterparts.

But yet, why the poor reputation?

Well, some websites believe that community colleges have a lower quality of education. Nonsense.

The classes at Bristol Community College were just as, if not, more demanding than the ones I’ve taken at UMass Dartmouth. BCC offered a wide array of quality programs, like dental, nursing, art, media, sports, and more. Programs that offer graduates a clear career path, sooner than a four-year degree.

Community college isn’t something that a student can put 60% or 70% of their attention on and achieve positive results.

No, it requires full motivation and work ethic.

Just because it’s half as long as its counterparts, doesn’t mean it should be written off as a “half-ass” school.

Kyle Bernardo, a graduate from UMass Dartmouth started off at Bristol Community College. “I was challenged everyday there, whether it was by work, or by the teachers,” said Bernardo.

Community colleges are beneficial it gets students ready for those big universities, without having to sacrifice their real-world responsibilities.

“I would credit a lot to my time there, especially with my accounting job,” said Bernardo. “The courses I took prepared me to succeed. The whole BCC experience kinda made me grow up. It made me more responsible with balancing schoolwork and a real job.”

It helps students earn credits in your area of study before entering a university, even if they have no idea what they want to do to in the future.

The bottom line is that in 21st century America, a college education may be the most important tool one will gain in their respective life, and community college is a great place to start the process.

Why are community colleges looked at as second best? Maybe that’s just a common perception of community colleges being looked at as inferior.

Community College Review stated that the average age of a community college student is 28, and 16% of students are over the age of 40.

Maybe there’s a notion that community colleges are only a backup option, rather than a first choice? Once again, nonsense.

It’s a prime example as to how wonderful it is that community colleges have an open door for a decent education for people who weren’t offered the opportunity when they were younger.

Inside Higher Ed stated that “one out of five community college students transfer to a four-year institution.” And 60 percent of those who do transfer, end up receiving their Bachelor’s Degree, like in Bernardo’s case.

Let’s all embrace that we have a multitude of educational access. Let’s take advantage of and support community colleges.

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