Friday, February 12, 2010

Community College is FAKE College?

"Oh, THAT'S where you're going next year? Don't you mean high school part 2?"

And that's where it begins. The teasing, frustration, and downright ignorance. At my high school if you were going to community college after graduation, it was almost considered social suicide. The reasons behind this disgust are pretty unstable. A lot of students after graduation made it a point to go to a pricey university right off the bat, whether or not they had any idea what they were going to major in. Parties away at school, new faces and most of all no parents! - seemed to be the major selling point. But for those that stayed at home to keep working and go to school at a reduced cost - we aren't living the life. We aren't getting a "real" college experience. For the most part, we're living with our parents and going to school with people that -gasp- we went to high school with. Oh, the horror!

The fact of the matter is, there are a lot of misconceptions when it comes to community college. The general population appears to believe that because our tuition per credit hour is incredibly cheaper than your average university, we're receiving a "discounted" "cheap" "rip-off" education. However, if you're here for your general education courses - which most are - all colleges in the state have the same outlines, guidelines, requirements, WHATEVER you'd like to call it for general education courses. They're general education. They're general. Anyone can take them, no matter where they are or what they cost. So really, community college students are just receiving an education, the same education, at a bargain.

Another "unappealing" side to community college is that it's "just like high school" because many people from your graduating class will be there. So...if there's so many of us taking this path, aren't we doing something right?

In my six classes, I have one fellow graduating member from my high school's class of 09. One. And it happens to be a good friend of mine - - totally unplanned. And seeing other people I graduated with in the halls? It happens. Not every five seconds such as assumed, but every once in a while. It's really not that big of a deal, and I don't even think about it. When I see someone that I went to high school with I'm not thinking "oh my god I can't believe we go to the same school" - - we've ALWAYS gone to the same school! Nothing runs through my mind when I see this people. I either know them, like them and say hi, or just keep walking. End of story. college doesn't give you the "college experience." Nope. It's not even a real school. It's fake. It's not like I'm going to be transferring to a university in a year and a half anyway... But you're right. I personally wouldn't consider community college your average college experience. In fact, I'd consider it a little bit harder and much more beneficial to living in the real world. Yes, I may live with my parents, and I'm in a town I've been in your entire life. But I find myself juggling work and school: not too many kids work as soon as they've gone off to college. I've never stopped. I find myself trying to make ends meet - socially, financially, academically, you name it. And while I may not be living in a dorm with a stranger and eating as much pizza, I feel like I'm really benefiting from the life lessons I have to learn here, and this is because I'm NOT out there getting that "college experience." This college experience would only distract me from being as successful as possible.

I don't party. Never have. If I would have gone off to a university this year instead, I still wouldn't have partied. I understand that people tend to affiliate college with partying, but what about the people that don't partake in partying? Does that make them less of a college student? Does that mean that they are missing out on a chance to enrich their lives? Well, of course not! Just because I were to go to a university does not mean I'm going to be living the Asher Roth lifestyle. So, minus the partying for me, what does that leave for my college experience? The school portion. And hey, I'm getting that RIGHT NOW, at my local community college! A fraction of the price, close to home so I can keep working to pay for my tuition (don't even get me started on the kids who have their parents pay for their entire schooling) and I'm having a great time. I can work and play, and to be honest, I've already found the perfect balance. I may not be leading the typical "college life," but I'm on the way to prepping myself for a very fantastic future in the real world, and believe me, that's not something you find in a dorm room or a frat party.

P.S. It's not high school part 2, no matter how many kids from my town go to the same school. I have yet to go to a school dance, football game, or pep rally. And believe me, there's a lot less drama. I WISH high school would have been as important and helpful as this.

P.P.S. I LOVE MY COMMUNITY COLLEGE! I should make a t-shirt.


UPDATE: I would say if you don't have anything nice to say to this don't say it at all... but now I'm saying bring it. I will defend every decision I've made in my life til the day I die. Hate on community college all you want...I'm not forcing you to go. Also, when commenting don't forget that I do plan to transfer to a university, this is not a university bashing here. Goodness, it's a defense of the community college is all.


mia209 said...

To be honest, your reasoning holds no truth. The education you get at a community college is not the same as an established four year institution. And the fact that you claim the only reason kids leave to go to college is to party and be away from their parents is ridiculous and stereotypical. More than anything it seems as if you are somehow trying to punish kids who had the opportunity to leave home. It is unfair to begrudge kids whose parents pay for their schooling, especially when they may be paying with loans and other forms of financial aid. And I doubt the reason kids chose to go to college was due to it being "pricey". Seems way-off base to me--you can't judge a minority of college students and claim them as the majority.

Jessi Haish said...

What is the difference between me stereotyping party students and people stereotyping community colleges to be less of an education???

I'm not punishing anyone here, it's just frustrating to have to defend a decision I made for myself. And if the parents are paying with loans and other financial aid, that's fine: but I chose to take that same route, but I'll be working to pay for it MYSELF.

You can't judge a minority or stereotype of a community college and claim it as the majority.

Hannah Mae said...

I completely agree. Everyone treats community college like it's only one step above not going to college at all. It's like frowned upon because you're not spending thousands of dollars to go to some fancy university. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but that's not what this is about. It's about her trying to defend us community college students who get looked down on because of where we are currently attending. That's all. So don't get all of your panties in a bunch, it's an opinion and we all have those.

Melissa Blake said...

Hey, Jessi -- I'm messaging you on facebook, but....don't listen to the haters! I LOVED this piece, and am SO glad you're doing what you love. In the end, that's what matters!

mia209 said...

By no means was I "bashing" community college, or being a "hater" as you say, but merely posting a comment--not all comments need be positive, or agree with your stand on the issue (that is why it is says post a comment, and not praise). Also like to point out this isn't a stand against you, or the choices you have made but rather just being critical of your opinion--not your life. All I was pointing out was that you cannot ignore that the "college experience" is much more than drinking, going to frats, and getting away from home. By making those judgements, I am sure that many people who go off to college (as in most) would feel offended from reading this post that more or less devalues their education. What you believe may create your own success, doesn't mean it will fit everyone else's formula. Just a different opinion--not some sort of written assault on your community college.

Jessi Haish said...

Alright, so you're offended that I assume university students to be "partiers." Big deal. But how do I not be offended by "The education you get at a community college is not the same as an established four year institution." If community college doesn't fit your formula, that's fine, but I don't think it is in your place to be questioning the education of a community college that you're not even aware of. I rest my case.

mia209 said...

Okay I understand, but again you seem to not be aware of the education provided from a four year college. Classes are generally more difficult due to the fact that they are selective in their admissions, whereas mmost people who graduate high school whether or not at the top of their class are accepted into community colleges. So, therefore they are not the same. Not trying to put down community college, I am just trying to explain that there is in fact a difference--if there wasn't they would be called the same thing.

Jessi Haish said...

Just because there are higher standards of admission for a university does not mean that the classes are necessarily any more difficult. In fact, most people may consider community college classes to be "easier", but most find this to be true because of the fact that at a community college there are smaller class sizes. With smaller class sizes, there can be more teacher-student attention, which means the student can have more time to grasp information, making the courses seem "easier" and a higher passing rate. More attention to the subject matter is all, I doubt that a math 101 class at a community college is any easier than the same class at a university.

And yes, they do have different names because there is a difference. But one is certainly not greater than the other.

Kyle said...

Jessi, you can't honestly tell me that you are going to get the exact same education if you take a math class at a community college versus at say, MIT.

Jessi Haish said...

Well not MIT which is a specific focused school...I'm saying compare NIU and Kish. not that big of difference.

RAY J said...

I don't know about Math101... I took that one at NIU and it was hell - I figured taking 1 math class and being done with it was the best way to go, but the students that took say 3 got off easier cuz the Math101 class was about 4 different math classes crammed into 1 and we NEVER spent much time on any one section and it was taught in the "doomed" Cole lecture hall 3 days a week with 1 day where we broken into sections of 25 to go over the homework before turning it in (in which it was more spent doing the homework with the TA that taught it cuz half of us didn't get it).

I can agree, with Gen Ed classes you can get the same education at a community college than you can at say NIU - I knew plenty of people that did - they'd go to Rock Valley for a year or 2 and knock out all those classes before switching to a 4 year. But when it comes to your major, I think there is a big difference.

I don't know about Kish's course offerings, but I do know that Rock Valley, when it comes to art classes and journalism classes just doesn't offer the same selection of courses to really teach you all you need for a BA. And my art courses at NIU, save for the history classes, only had maybe 15-20 people at most in each class, sometimes less.

As for parents funding the education... mine started saving for my college tuition when I was very little because they didn't want me to have to have a ton of student debt when I finished. Granted it took me a little longer to get through school than we anticipated, however I did end up paying for my own housing and utilities my last 3 semesters down in DeKalb (as well as the last 6 months I was living down there) in order to ensure there was enough left in my tuition fund to finish. What's so wrong with the fact that my parents were smart and decided to start saving early so I could go to college and not have to worry about a ton of debt?

Jessi Haish said...

Hah yeah I'm in Math 101 right now and it's pretty terrible. And I'm glad you agree that the general ed courses are pretty much the same here or there. It's why I'm going to community college, I save a bundle on a class I could take somewhere else, but it would be much more expensive somwehere else. I can't get a journalism degree at Kish, but the prep work like journalism classes and the newspaper staff really help lay down the groundwork considering I couldn't get much journalism background in high school. It's a really great way to catch up before I transfer to a university and actually major in journalism.

There's nothing wrong with your parents saving up for your education. My parents just have different views - they think that since I'm an adult now, my education is my responsibility, financially and otherwise. I'm nineteen and paying for every cent of college; I have a new found appreciation for academics because if I fail a class, I have to pay for it again! It just teaches me a lot about personal responsibility and I appreciate the gesture. It makes me feel like I am accomplishing something on my own by paying for it and succeeding. I feel like I don't "owe" it to them to do well, I can just be successful because I want to be.

Sarah said...

I have graduated from a community college, I transfered to a 4-year University and graduated, and went on to complete a 2-year graduate program. I can definitevely say that community college was a total waste of time and I learned nothing. Well, maybe thats not true. I graduated community college with a 3.8 GPA and NEVER went to class! That enabled me to get into an excellent real college.

The majority of community college students do not care about education and the professors refelct those attitudes in their teaching vigor.

People go to community college because they screwed up in high school and can't get into a college they want. Smart/Driven students are not looking for a discounted education at a clearance store college.

You seem intelligent so the aforementioned stereotype likely does not apply to you, however, I believe you and in the slim minority. If you really did go to community college for a discounted tuition you were grossly misinformed about community college.

Bright side is a monkey could graduate community college in 2 years, so I'm sure your not too far behind the monkey

The One and Only Roxie said...

I went to community college for 4 years while I tried to figure out what I really wanted to do. I racked up 100+ credits and an associate's degree.

Then there were the kids who graduated with or around me. One girl got dragged back by her parents because she partied too much and studied very little. In fact, most of my classmates (as I've found via Facebook) never finished because they partied too much. Our state is pretty well known for their party schools and not their academics.

Anyone who claims that that's a stereotype is kidding themselves. Unless your college is religious, I guarantee there are a large fraction of students who are putting (mostly likely) their parents into massive debt while they live it up and skimp on their academic responsibility. They flunk out, new partiers come in, the cycle lives on.

Now on my 6th year of school (way to change majors, self) I'm only about 7 grand in debt. My classmates...not so lucky. I feel like people who start at community college are serious about their education (but not all of them are), so they don't party. They don't waste their time. They want to finish. I want to finish.

And that's my opinion.

P.S. Our community college grew so much, I heard we're getting forced into turning university. That one is for anyone that thinks CC education is low quality.

ChainedCarrie said...

I absolutely agree that people shouldn't say the condescending things they do about community colleges and their students. I went to a community college for 4 semesters, and it was a great experience. I felt like I learned a lot in the majority of my classes, I liked most of my teachers, I was president of an art club, and I met a huge variety of people. At the same time, I was able to keep up with my old friends and everything else in my life.

Since going to community college, I've transferred twice (once to a four year school that didn't work out at all, and then to another one that I'm currently at). My classes at both of the four year schools haven't been anywhere near as interesting as the ones I had at community college. In general, I've learned less in four year college so far than in community college, and the teachers at the community college I went to were more knowledgeable and had more respect for students than the teachers in the "real colleges". Additionally, community college is more like the real world than four year colleges are because students are from a larger variety of backgrounds and there is more diversity in the age of students as well.

Roosterruler said...


Lovely. Brilliant. Refreshing. Truth.

I have no shame in admiting that I am currently deeply infatuated with my community college, if that's even important.

There are so many opportunities for me there. It's extrememly personal. I can get as much out of the CC experience as I would from a major university -- and I can actually pay for it now. No loans for me. Maybe later I'll transfer, but I love keeping my life flexible. Why invest $30,000 a year (smokes!) on a choice I make at the age of 18? I'd rather get the pre-recs taken care of and then put the money in the more specialized classes.

CC makes me dandy and I look foward to going each day. It just feels good to be there.

Thanks for putting up your post. It made me grin a bit... but grimmace as I think to what others are thinking of this fine education we are obtaining. In the end, does it even matter?

Ruffino Designs said...

The entire time I spent reading this I kept thinking "did I write this blog and then forget about it, because I'm fairly certain this is my life." I'm taking my last two classes for my associates degree, and I have saved over $10,000. Due to the fact that I have saved that much money I'm now moving to NYC years earlier than expected, and going to a school that would not have been within my grasp had I not gone to community college first. You're absolutely right, I see the people around me, unlike many university kids they work, some full time, some are parents, some fought in Vietnam! Community college has saved me hoards of money and has given me experiences I would not have had access to had I gone to a University first. AMEN to community college.
Actually further more the education I am receiving now is almost exactly the same as the students at Florida State University (the school most kids transfer to from mine) many of my professors teach there as well, and say they give out the exact same material. Even those who don't also teach at FSU have PHDs and masters and have repeatedly said the education were receiving is exactly the same as University students. A standard of education seeming the same at MANY community colleges. We are not doing anything less than University students across the country..sometimes were even doing more.

Tansy said...

Thank you for this. Really. I've been really trying to decide where I want to go in life. Its like I don't have enough time left in High School to decide what I want to do. Who I want to be. I think I will go to Community College. Well it might not be a community college persay, but it will be a much smaller less expensive school, so I can decide where I want to go and What I want to do.


Multi-Ainjo said...

So true!!! I received my AA degree from a fabulous community college, Inver Hills in Minnesota, that I love and adore and keep in contact with two professors of such wonderful wisdom I can not sing their praises enough!

I am now at a university only because they didn't offere BA degrees at Inver Hills.

Although I love my university, it is because it feels like my college. Small classes, smart teachers and beautiful grounds.

Thanks for defending the community college haters!

Scott C. said...

This post brought up the main points but left out two:

All of those teaching in community colleges are knowledgeable in their field. In fact, just as, or more than, the TAs that are running the show at 4 year universities. A huge advantage is the one-on-one work a dedicated student has the ability to utilize. Talking with friends I found some Gen. Ed. classes at 4 year schools require students only to take a midterm and a final. I would love to have that class. Community colleges can do a better job at TEACHING because they have the opportunity to deal with smaller classes and give out more required homework.

But a huge life change is what community college students are missing. The big experience of leaving home and adapting to a new environment with thousands of others is part of what students pay for. The social experience of moving into a dorm fresh out of high school gives a (focused) person a "fresh start." This is the reason I am leaving home to study in Ireland: the experience.

I think CC is the way to go if you are looking to save money. It is also the way to go to learn a LOT. But it is also the place to go if you want to just skate by. Good luck after two years with that level of commitment...

Scott C. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
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Anonymous said...

community college isn't a bad choice. but the quality of education is different from a four year college. there is a reason for the lower price. i go to NIU and some of my instructors have taught at Kish. they even notice a difference. first off, they get paid little. second, most of the students don't care so the teachers don't put in as much effort as they would for a class that was engaged.
also, a TON of ppl who go to kish party like crazy. they go to NIU parties. soooo where ever you go there is partying. ppl party while theyre in high school!
another thing, most ppl who go to a community college don't care about their education. that's where the stereotype comes from. they just go because they might as well since they don't have a job or don't want to get yelled at by their parents. again, this is a majority. obviously, you are not like this. you care about your finances and education, which is great. but they ppl you are talking to about CC are not talking about you but the ppl who attend your school. and i found this blog pretty offensive.

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HiLLjO said...

I agree with you, Jessi. I have gone to both a 4-year and a community college and my husband graduated from a community college.
I hated all of it. So I dropped out after my funding was cut from the loan company. Very convenient.

The only thing I have to add is that the individual is what the quality of the education depends on, not where it is learned. If you're serious enough about learning whatever you want, nothing will stop you; not even where you go to school.
You don't have to go to a 4-year school to get into med or law school. Just saying!


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