Overcoming the Stigma of Community College

Overcoming the Stigma of Community College
There are a number of myths and misconceptions out there that lead people to believe that community college is somehow less valid than a four-year school. Keep reading to learn why this stigma against community college is unfounded.

Many people make comparisons between community colleges and “real” colleges, perpetuating the idea that a community college education is somehow less valid than one from a traditional four-year university. Community colleges have long been stigmatized but more and more students are taking to social media to proudly declare their support for this type of education. There will always be people who look down on community colleges and the students who attend them, but the truth is that the line between community college and “real” college is becoming more and more blurry.

Overview of Recent Posts on Social Media

Both community colleges and traditional four-year universities are a type of higher education, but many people make an unfavorable comparison between the two. Though there are many who think that a community college degree is somehow less valuable than one attained at a private college or state university, many community college students are proud of their educational choices. Here are some posts from social media in the spring of 2017 that show a trend toward greater support for community colleges and the students who attend them:

On June 3, Twitter user Alexis Isabel posted, “I hate seeing people be ashamed to be going to community college. College is college. I’m proud of everyone who is trying their best.”

On June 3, Twitter user @TKVSH posted, “Ya’ll shaming people for going to a community college instead of a university?? In this economy?????”

On June 1, Twitter user Brady Bates posted, “Why do people say ‘there’s nothing wrong with that’ after I say I’m going to community college? I know there’s nothing wrong with it…”

On June 3, Twitter user @ItsGiannaPaola posted, “Ya be coming at people who go to community college, but who’s in debt four years later?”

Why is Community College So Stigmatized?

Many students choose to attend community college because it is a more affordable option than most traditional four-year colleges and universities. It is also common for students to complete their general education requirements at community college before transferring to a more specialized school to finish their degree. Though there are many benefits associated with community college, there are also a number of myths and misconceptions that perpetuate the idea that community college somehow isn’t “real” college. Here are some of the most common myths and misconceptions about community college:

Myth #1: Community college is easier than a traditional four-year college or university.

One of the most common myths about community college is that it is somehow easier than a “real” college or that it is simply an extension of high school. According to a U.S. News & World Report, however, about 40% of all undergrads in the United States are currently enrolled in community college and more than 80% of them intend to earn at least a bachelor’s degree. Marc Fellenz, a professor at Suffolk County Community College has been quoted saying, “most community college classes are as rigorous as comparable courses at four-year colleges.” The fact of the matter is that the type of school doesn’t matter – it’s all about the qualifications and experience of the professors and the work ethic of each individual student.

In this brief video, Silva explains what community college is really like.

Myth #2: Community college professors are less qualified.

Going hand-in-hand with the previous myth is the idea that community college professors are less educated or less qualified than professors at four-year colleges. Though requirements vary from one school to another, most community colleges require their professors to have at least a Master’s Degree – this is true of many four-year colleges as well. Another thing to consider is that community colleges tend to be more focused on education while many of the larger colleges and universities are research-focused – this can take away from a professor’s ability to focus on his students. You also need to keep in mind that, at many larger universities, it is a teaching assistant (TA) that teaches many of the lower level classes, not a professor. This means that even at a four-year college, you aren’t guaranteed to have a doctorate-level professor teaching your courses.

Myth #3: Community colleges don’t have any student life.

Half the fun of attending college is enjoying all of the social benefits that come with it. Many people mistakenly assume that community colleges don’t offer an “authentic” college experience but that simply isn’t the case. In fact, more and more community colleges are starting to offer on-campus housing and many of them offer social events throughout the school year as well as student-led activities and organizations. Sports programs are also becoming increasingly popular at community colleges around the country.

Here is a look at student life at Austin Community College.

Myth #4: Credits from community college won’t transfer.

About one out of every three college students transfer to a different school at some point in the secondary education and, according to a study conducted by the National Association for College Admission Counseling, as many as 66% of transfer students come from a community college background. One of the main reasons students choose community college is because it is a cheaper way to obtain general education requirements and prerequisites needed to complete a degree at a traditional four-year school. It is true that the transfer process isn’t always easy – and it certainly isn’t perfect – but it can be done. The key is to have a long-term plan going in so you know exactly which classes to take, how many credits you need, and which schools will accept your transfer credits. Public colleges tend to accept transfer credits more readily than private institutions, but there are always options available.

Myth #5: Community colleges don’t offer as much academic or financial support.

Many people believe that students who attend community college are on their own but this is simply not true. Community colleges often offer supportive services to their students but it is up to the student to take advantage. Having an academic advisor is important, but you still need to take control of your own education. Many community colleges offer other academic and career services such as mock interviews, career planning, and more. On the financial side of things, many community colleges also offer scholarships to their students. You can also qualify for federal student loans regardless of what type of college you plan to attend. As is true for a traditional four-year university, what you get out of your community college experience depends on what you put into it.

Myth #6: The most successful people attend traditional four-year universities.

At this point it should be fairly obvious that the stigma about community college is completely unfounded – community college is just as legitimate and valuable as a regular school. Many people think that you can’t be successful unless you go to a “real” school, but that simply isn’t true. Some of the biggest celebrities went to community college including Clint Eastwood, Morgan Freeman, Tom Hanks, and even Steve Jobs.

Though once considered a luxury, a college education has become a necessity for most higher-level jobs in our modern society. What many people fail to realize, however, is that having a degree is more important than where the degree actually comes from – many employers don’t even pay attention to what school a potential employee attended as long as their education and experience are a match. If you’re preparing to go to college in the near future, get over the stigma and consider community college as an option.

Questions? Contact us on Facebook. @communitycollegereview

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