Revisiting the Value of Community College
Do you remember the months approaching high school graduation when everyone is gushing about the schools they’ve gotten into and bashing the ivy league they didn’t?
Many professionals will tell you that it doesn’t matter whether you go to one of the leagues or a state school, a C is the average across the board. If you go to a state school, however, you’re probably better off because you won’t have nearly as much debt.
All the same, I can remember envying those that got into big name schools, the anxiety about my own college enrollment, and I’m ashamed to admit a hint of pity for those who only got into community college.
But having attending both a two-year and four-year school, I have to admit I liked the two-year better. Not only were the classes shorter and less intimidating, but more of my professors were professionals still applying their trade.
I don’t know if I felt more sure of myself because I had a vision of my future after graduation or because I thought community college was for people who didn’t meet the grade requirements of four-year schools, but I felt more sure of myself than I ever had at my previous school.
It’s better to say that community college is for those who want to ease into college, whether you’re not emotionally or academically ready, or just don’t know what you want. I went two years at a four-year school without declaring a major even though my classes were in the general direction of pre-med and English. Upon enrolling in a two-year, the advisor sat me down and asked what my major would be. I chose English, and they offered journalism. Therein lies the fundamental difference between a two-year and a four-year school: limited career-based curriculum.
My four-year degree prepared me for further study while my two-year degree prepared me to work.
My professors required that I go out and find stories, conduct interviews, and write pitch letters along with attending regular English lectures, complete readings and write essays all in a year and a half. Best of all, I graduated with an awesome GPA and a letter inviting me to apply to Columbia, this at a fraction of the cost.
After graduation, I got my first internship with an award winning website and magazine publisher, which led to my first printed article; little victories that boosted my confidence, and in turn marketability, in a fraction of the time.
Upon returning to a four-year college, I was ineligible for any journalism classes having taken them at the associate level. I’ve also finished all my requirements for my bachelor’s degree, with the exception of five elective credits I don’t have the use or money for. I could take a seminar analyzing South Park for all the university cares, all to achieve a “well-rounded” academic portfolio. Maybe in this job market, where everyone demands a four-year degree, we should examine how much real world work experience goes into it.