Community college always gets a bad reputation

By Bethany Rentfro, Staff Reporter

An education from a community college is not met with the same level of respect as a degree from a university. Community college is viewed by many people as “glorified high school” with sub-par education.  

Community college isn’t a place for the less-educated portion of the population. It actually serves as a great jumping-off-point for students who want to get a four-year degree.  

Students who are 18-years-old and just barely out of high school are expected to know what they want to do with the next 50 years of their lives, but for so many, that is not the reality. 

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Most students are well-rounded and have multiple interests. They have knowledge that is applicable to multiple career fields. Community college provides students with the freedom to explore multiple avenues and career prospects. 

That’s an option many do not have at a university. 

According to an article from US News, “nearly half of all students enrolled at four-year universities started at two year schools.”   

The article said community college transfer students graduate from four-year universities in a reasonable amount of time, and on average, they earn their degrees within two and a half years.  

Another reason why community colleges are vital to a student’s experience in higher education is due to the growing importance of trade fields. 

Skilled trades are in high demand in the United States, and we need more people who are willing to work with their hands.  

Most universities do not provide the necessary training for those entering the trade fields. Many community colleges across the United States are vocational schools that teach students hands-on skills. 

According to an article by the Atlantic, “the traditional college enrollment rates increased from 13.2 million students in the year 2000, to 16.9 million students in 2016.”  

This shift led to a decrease in skilled workers and tradespeople. 

A degree from a four-year institution is just not practical for some people. Why go to a university to read from a textbook when you can get an associate’s degree in one to two years, gain skills and go straight into the workforce?   

Automotive professionals, welders, plumbers, heating and air-conditioning installers, cosmetologists, massage therapists and so many others are in those fields because of the education they received from community colleges.  

Even if you want to pursue a four-year degree, starting at a community college is a cheaper and more affordable alternative.  

It is no secret that universities are expensive and the cost of getting a four-year degree or higher is a problem for millennials who want to pursue an education.  

Community colleges are much more affordable, making college a reality for more people.  

According to statistics from The College Board, “the average cost of a two-year college for in-district students is $3,440.  The average cost of a public four-year university is $9,410 for in-state students. Out-of-state students could end up paying as high as $23,890 to attend a four-year university.”

Not to mention the amount of debt students acquire from taking out student loans. 

Students who begin their education at community colleges have a higher success rate and are more likely to finish their college education at a university.  

Community college isn’t just for students who just graduated high school. It is also a great resource for veterans to receive a college education. 

According to an article from the Postsecondary National Policy Institute, “23% of students enrolled in community colleges are veterans.” 

The article also said about 54% of student veterans are in associate degree programs or certificate programs. 

“In 2015, about 14% of degrees earned by student veterans were in STEM. Top fields of study for veterans are as follows: 18% majored in business, marketing or related fields.  15% majored in health professions, and 8% majored in engineering,” according to the same article from PNPI.

Community colleges provide an easier avenue for veterans who have not been in a classroom setting for a while.  

Adults who never had the opportunity to attend school when they were younger are more likely to do so at a community or junior college. 

De-stigmatizing community college isn’t going to happen overnight. It takes a collective effort of people to realize the advantages of it for any progress to be made.  

Note: I attended community college at John A. Logan College in Carterville, Illinois and it has been one of the best decisions I have ever made.  I recommend community college to high school seniors as a practical option for those who are exploring the endless possibilities college has to offer them. 

Editor’s note: The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not reflect the official policy or position of The Daily Egyptian, its staff or its associates. 

Staff reporter Bethany Rentfro can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter at @BethanyRentfro.

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