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,