Community colleges

As high school students prepare for graduate, their friends and family members will bombard them with the same question, “So where are you going to college?” To a large extent, I applaud the strong push for higher education but by college, most people assume college to mean a 4-year university. So when HS graduates say, “I am going to community college,” I get sick to my stomach to see the tacit disappointment register on the face of the person asking the question.There is an article in the New York Times that talks about the state of community colleges. Community colleges “are growing much faster than four-year colleges and universities, enrolling nearly half of all undergraduates. That’s 6.6 million students.” 

And because community colleges serve a “disproportionate number of immigrants, first-generation citizens and minorities,” we should do well to embrace reality and not allow the elitism laced with 4-year colleges to put down people in our community that choose this route. 

I hate how community colleges are used as a political football though. Even though community colleges enroll half of all undergraduates, “2-year colleges receive less than 30 percent of state and local financing for higher education, according to the American Association of Community Colleges.” 

The crippling of high schools are not preparing our students for 4 year colleges in many cases, so high schools push their kids off to community college to get the training and skills they should have received in high school. 

4-year colleges recommend applicants to go to community college, expecting 2-year institutions to bring back a more polished applicant. 

Misguided mentors, academic counselors (where available), and friends all posit that if a student is not an academic standout, will then push for community college as an only option and not one of several.

And some of us who are blessed to have matriculated through 4-year institutions and/or graduate school are really bad to the extent we think so low of community colleges, that we will effectively scare graduates to only apply for 4-year institutions or go to community college at their peril. 

Another problem some of us have is the artificial timelines we impose on HS graduates. The most common artificial timeline is that if education (2-year, 4-year, graduate school) can be completed by the time a person is 30, everything will be fine. I don’t think we fully appreciate the impact our advice has on people looking to reap the benefits of higher education.

I ask that you help eliminate the social stigma associated with community college and realize that there is no one path for success, however defined.

How do you feel about the role of community colleges in helping or not helping to uplift our community?

Stay up fam,

Brandon Q.



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4 responses to “Community colleges”

  1. super_mujer06 says :

    I think one benefit a community college can have is for the student coming out of high school that isn’t quite sure what they want to do. Yes college is a great time for exploration and self-searching, but considering the costs now and the four year timeline you have (which goes very fast) community college might be a good choice to do a little feeling out. I am not totally buying into the hype that a four year degree is the end all of getting a job and securing employment. Most of my friends from college have either gone on to graduate studies because there was not much they could do with their degree on its own, or they are working in a field that has nothing to do with their undergrad studies. That being said it probably just depends on the person. Some people don’t have the focus to be in undergrad for four years and can get enough training with an associates. Some people need that four year time to go off from home and explore life and pray that they come upon a major in two years time that they can finish in four lol. A lot of college is about growth as a person and the intellect as well. My advice to people going into college now is to make sure they are doing internships during the summer or while in school, and to make sure they are going to be employable when they graduate. No sense in walking away with a $100,000 loan debt and still can’t get a job, and you only remember half the material you were taught.

  2. Ms. Mack says :


    I appreciate this post. Now that I live in California, I have really seen first hand the benefits of community college. My significant other attends community college here and in one year’s time will have the opportunity to transfer into a presitigous four year university that he never dreamed he could get into. Community college is encouraged in this state because it is a cost effective way to begin your education and as a reward the top universities in the State enroll heavily from community colleges. While at Michigan, I knew a young woman who came from rural Michigan and had transferred to U of M from a community college. Due to the grades and maturity she was able to achieve/attain at community college she came to U of M and did so well that our senior year she was accepted into UofM Law (the #7 Law School in the country). I am convinced that community college is the perfect way for many people to begin their higher education. In fact I am encouraging my brother to start there, save himself some money and gain enough maturity to then pursue a 4 year university, at a time when he can appreciate his fortune. Looking down upon community college is really a result of ignorance.

  3. Brandon Q. says :

    Ms. Mack and Super, I agree wholeheartedly with you. I guess for me, I just see alot of social pressure to get that 4-year degree and I would like to see community colleges more embraced by our community. Ms. Mack, rarely do we see the stories like the one you highlighted.

    Thanks for the comments,

    Brandon Q.

  4. Jahmal W. says :

    Yo BQ-Dub, I really do agree with your comments about the social stigma of a CC/JUCO. But I do think that we should always be pushing our childrens, friends, and family to seek the amenities a University has to offer, one of which is a Bachelors Degree. I see nothing wrong with going to CC as a start. But growing up in Ypsi elicited different results in my peers, and thus a slightly skewed, more negative view of CC for me. Many of my friends went to CC to start, even though they could have gone to Wayne, MSU, EMU, or UM. They chose to go to Washtenaw. And now one friend in particular finished with the same GPA and ACT score as me, and while I went to UM, and now and getting my MSW at MSU, he went to Washtenaw, and never finised even his Associate’s Degree. I think that some people that stay in their environment and go to CC don’t surround themselves with other scholars, and end up falling by the waistside. I think the issue surrounding CC’s for me is that most people I know that go there end up not achieving their full potential, and therefore it seems as though people that go to CC’s are underachievers. Motivation for people is key, and maybe by removing the negative stigma of a CC will help, but I think we still should be encouraging the people close to us to continue striving and learning. CC can be a gift and a curse (as can most things) but I think if a person doesn’t have the right support, they can be too influenced by the “community” and not the “college.”

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