Stop stigmatizing community college


According to a study conducted by the National Student Clearinghouse, 45 percent of all students who finished a four-year degree in 2010-11 had previously enrolled at a two-year college. It explains the importance of feeder schools and two-year institutions such as community colleges.

As college decisions loom around the corner, many students are mentally preparing for the worst that could happen: getting rejected. On the other hand, students who have made the choice to attend community college don’t have to face the coming months with anxiety.

Community college is a great option for students trying to stretch their dollars. Not only is community college significantly cheaper than four-year schools, it also allows more room for flexibility and they are also transitional.

So what’s the catch?

Community colleges have several cons such as the lack of campus life and academic opportunities, but the biggest con of community colleges are the stigma that surrounds them.
For years, students have been shamed and made fun of for choosing to attend community colleges instead of four-year schools.

“I feel like people put down community colleges so much even though it’s a much smarter decision financially, and you can do programs with a university that you might want to transfer to,” senior Alexis Granados said.
Many people assume that going to community college means that you aren’t smart enough to go to a university, but that’s so far from the truth.

A handful of students that attend community college end up transferring to traditional four-year schools. Not only will they have paid less, but they can also finish in a year because of the ability to transfer credits.
Out of those students, a small percentage of these students end up attending highly competitive schools.
Northern Virginia Community College is one of the most popular choices among students trying to further their education on a budget. Many Annandale students have went on to study at NOVA. One of its biggest perks is that it’s a feeder school.

NOVA can help students efficiently transfer to four-year universities due to their connections to bigger universities such as George Mason, VCU, Marymount and Virginia Tech.

A large factor that many people don’t think to consider is that many community college students are first-generation. According to First Generation Naspa, 56% of community college students are first-gen.

Many first-generation students have to carry the responsibility of being successful so they can support their families. The issue here is that handfuls of these families can’t afford to send their kids to competitive schools because of the high tuition.

“Considering we’re in a pandemic, it seems more reasonable because why would you pay $25,000 to sit in your room on a laptop, not knowing what you want to do when you could pay a fraction of the price by going to community college,” Granados said.

Many people also believe that obtaining a degree from a community college is less valuable to employers. At the end of the day, a degree is a degree. Employers want to know if you’ll be a good fit in the workplace, and that is not determined by the kind of degree you have.

Another benefit to community college is that thousands of community colleges offer bridging programs. The purpose of these programs is to prepare community college students for transferring into four-year schools. Bridging programs also have connections with specific universities, so the process of transferring credits is made much simpler.

“I feel like society created an image that you have to go to a four-year college right after high school and know exactly what you want to do,” Granados said. “All it does is create debt, and if everything is virtual then it makes more sense to just hold out a little.”

Another stigma around community colleges is that the professors are less qualified than those that work at universities. In the United States, to become a professor you must hold a Master’s Degree in their field, regardless of whether you work at a community college or a four-year one.

It’s been difficult to break these stereotypes, but they are not as bad as before.

Some of the most famous actors and entrepreneurs graduated from community colleges. Tom Hanks, Walt Disney, Clint Eastwood and Costco CEO James Sinegal are all examples of incredibly successful people that graduated from community college.

People need to stop looking down on students for attending community college because you don’t know what their circumstances are. At least they’re making an effort to further their education.

Furthermore, community college is also a smarter decision in terms of finances.

Most community college students end up graduating debt-free, and in some cases students can even get paid to attend. Students can also use community college as an advantage to get into a school that they couldn’t get into straight after high school. They could improve their GPA and then transfer to a university.

Students who go directly to a four-year university are by no means better than those who attend community college. Everyone has different paths in life and it’s high time that we, as a society, learn to respect others’ choices and not look down upon people just because they do something different.