This is an interesting notion that people have when they think of community colleges. Although I’m not certain when or where the stereotype started, there’s this idea out there that the education received at a community college is not as good as the education received from a 4-year school. In my experience, having attended two different 4-year schools as well as a community college, employers don’t seem to be as concerned with where or how you came to know something. Employers these days are looking for someone who demonstrates what they know and works hard at what they do. The hard work and knowledge come from the individual, not the institution attended.
2. 4-year schools won’t accept credits from a community college.
Higher education systems have come to value education regardless of where credits are earned. Students have transferred credits from community colleges to some of the best schools in the nation. CCA often gets requests to send transcripts to Ivy League schools like Harvard and Brown University.
Colorado schools have been on the same page in their mission to educate the state’s residents for some time and have worked diligently over the years to make the transfer process as streamlined as possible. A guaranteed transfer list is now available to students so that they can make wise decisions when selecting courses. Courses and degrees that are guaranteed to transfer make the transition from a 2-year college to a 4-year school a seamless one.
3. No one successful goes to a community college.
A popular opinion is that people that go to a community college don’t become anyone that matters – that with a community college education, you can’t be anyone successful or important. But this is definitely not the case. Here’s a sampling of successful people that attended community colleges (Community College Review, 2008, by Grace Chen):
- Pete Rozelle: Commissioner of the NFL
- Tom Hanks: Oscar-winning actor
- H. Ross Perot: Corporate executive and 1992 Presidential Candidate
- Calvin Klein: Fashion Designer
- Melvin Salveson: Creator of MasterCard
- Walt Disney: Founder of Disney World and Disneyland
- Francine Neff: Former US Treasurer
- Arthur Goldberg: Supreme Court Justice
- James Sinegal: CEO of Costco
- Fred Haise: Apollo 13 Astronaut
- Clint Eastwood: Actor and Oscar-winning director
- John Walsh: “America’s Most Wanted” host
- Rita Mae Brown: Author
- Gwendolyn Brooks: Pulitzer prize-winning poet
- Eileen Collins, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) astronaut
4. Community college is easy
Some people think that community college is easy; I say community college is effective. The reality is that people have different learning styles. For many people, it’s really difficult to be successful in a class of several hundred students. This was true for me, as I tried a couple of times to take a statistics class in this way and was not successful. I later decided to take the class at Community College of Aurora because I thought it would be easy. The truth is that there were only 15-20 students in the class, and I formed some relationships with classmates very quickly. Suddenly I was in a study group that met before each class to review homework and prepare for the day’s lesson. It didn’t take long before my instructor knew my name. As a class, we were out in the parking lot counting cars and making predictions. We used Microsoft Excel to complete projects. The class was rigorous, but because of the structure and individual attention I made it this time – I passed. The class was not easier than my previous classes, but it was a better learning environment for me. A small number of students in a class and an instructor that knew my name, combined with real-life application of the concepts learned in the class made the class seam easier because I understood what I was learning and it was actually fun.
5. Everyone at a community college is in a technical education program.
Refer to almost any community college website or informational material, and you will find that the programs offered are extremely varied. Yes, career and technical education is offered at many community colleges, but they are not offered exclusively. For example, courses in psychology, business and engineering, as well as core classes in math and science are offered at Community College of Aurora. The interests and goals of community college students are as varied as the backgrounds and life experiences of the students themselves. These goals and interests change all the time, and community colleges are uniquely positioned to accommodate them.
“I have a plan which is at the same time unique and comprehensive, which I am persuaded, will revolutionize university study in this country.”
— William Rainey Harper, referring to his idea to create “junior colleges.” These were to be satellites of the larger universities, making college more accessible.