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J0E's avatar

What are you thoughts on community college?

Asked by J0E (13092 points ) September 19th, 2009 from iPhone

It seems that most people look down on community college, there is a certain stigma that goes with it. Now NBC has a new show called Community that does everything it can to promote these veiws. As a current community college student I find it disrespectful. But more than that I wonder why more people don’t choose CC, I think it is very financially smart to go to a CC for the first two years and pay much less for the same basic classes that every university teaches.

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44 Answers

jrpowell's avatar

I went to a Community College. I did two years to do all the general ed stuff and transferred to a University. My degree says “University of Oregon” and I saved buckets of cash.

It seems like the smart thing to do.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

I think that a really determined person can make community college a great stepping stone for themselves for an associate’s degree, for example…but as I only know only a couple, my concept of community couples is limited…I do think they’re easier to get into and have much easier course-work and for us immigrant kids they were always a good option when we were learning English…my brother went to a community college…I went to a private university…

teh_kvlt_liberal's avatar

I guess it’s because CC is really easy to get into. But in my opinion, it’s just the same as any college. Just because it’s easy to get into, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s bad, and just because something is hard to get into doesn’t necessarily mean it’s good.
I would love to get into a CC, but my family looks down on it, even though I’m trying to save some cash because my parents have to pay more than 200,000 for my sister’s 4 year tuition.

Judi's avatar

A very smart friend gives this advice to HS graduates. He says “Go to a community college for the first two years. The teachers want to teach for a living. It is there profession. If you go to a university your first two years could be taught by graduate students who could care less about teaching.”

dpworkin's avatar

I am engaged in a six-year-long adventure, trying to get an MSW, late in life, never having gone to college, or finished high school. This year I am a Senior at a 4-year university, but I would never have reached this point without tiny, disrespected Columbia Greene Community College.

There I learned what structured education meant, how to write papers, how to study, how to take exams, and I also learned how thrilling it is to have a good professor who is really excited about his subject and who loves to teach.

I am still slogging my way up the mountain, but could never have attained this height without CGCC.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@pdworkin and you’re the kind of person I meant in my above comment

J0E's avatar

Some very smart people on this thread…Go CC!!

Dog's avatar

In my personal experience It was a great place to boost your GPA to get into a University.

Why? So many unmotivated kids go there because Mom and Dad will boot them out if they are not going to college. This really helps the grading curve.
(And as @johnpowell says I too saved buckets of cash and ended up with a degree that said University of…)

The_Compassionate_Heretic's avatar

Adam Corolla once referred to community college as “high school with ashtrays”.
I went and yeah it was like that pretty much.

However if you’re in high school, and aren’t doing awesome, community college is a good way to go. If you kick ass in community college it makes up for whatever crap grades you got in high school when it comes to applying to a university.

holden's avatar

My experience with community college has been very brief, but I found the quality of education to be as good or better than that I have received so far at the state college I am attending. I took economics, automotive technology, and algorithm design over the summer term and would not have been able to take that combination of classes at my University. The atmosphere is definitely different, though.

I think that going to community college, taking your G.E. classes and then streamlining your education at a four-year, is a perfectly sensible alternative.

hungryhungryhortence's avatar

I like community college for people to establish the first degrees but only if they are diligent and can produce top grades good enough to get them into 4yr colleges in good standing.

evegrimm's avatar

Community college is great for many reasons. One is the obvious, “it’s less expensive”.

Another is that, at least at my CC, many of the same teachers taught at both the local State university and at the CC…so you were getting a so-called “university-quality” education for a fraction of the price.

If you can get your first 2 years out of the way for much less money, why wouldn’t you? Also, no CC classes (in my personal experience) are ever 300–500 people big, which many Uni classes are at the same level (100–200 level). The most I’ve ever experienced was ~60 people in a class.

A better teacher-student ratio, a better price, more laid-back, better “customer” service (fewer students = more attention)...can’t think of a reason not to.

Also (at least in AZ), you can complete an AGEC (AZ Gen Ed Curriculum) that replaces most or all of your first two years of classes, even if there isn’t an “applicability” between some. (It’s great for transfer students, because specific unis want specific “core” classes, which the AGEC takes care of.)

Ivan's avatar

Judi hit the nail on the head. The teachers at community colleges actually have a desire to teach you. They were trained to be teachers first and foremost, and that this their entire career. At large universities, even if you get an actual professor, they don’t care. They show up for 3 or 4 hours per week, if that, and they just click through slide-shows that they wrote up 10 years ago. There’s 100 or more students in each class, and they have no incentive to make sure that any one particular student does well. They have other projects, other careers, other interests that they are devoted to.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@Ivan plenty of my NYU professors loved to teach and were dedicated and passionate so it’s not an automatic that they don’t care…they were a great inspiration to me

gailcalled's avatar

@pdworkin: I took a a three week-end class in how to teach ESL and Reading for the Illiterate at Columbia/ Greene. The class and teacher were wonderful. For the finale, the teacher persuaded a guy in his mid-forties to come in and tell us how he had fooled his family and the world for his whole life. He taught us the tricks that adult non-readers use to get by. It was fascinating; he got a standing ovation. And he was by then able to read.

Inspirational, I say. (I went to one of the Seven Sisters as a traditional undergraduate; there were lots of bad teachers and uninteresting courses there.)

casheroo's avatar

In my area, people are vying for spots in the community college nursing program…it’s a great one, and you become an RN after two years you do have pre-reqs to accomplish, but they can be done while getting the RN, I chose to get the pre-reqs done first It’s pretty intense how well known the program is. Also, it’s got an amazing technical school and they’re making a new wing to the school…it resembles buildings I’ve seen at Temple University and SJU.

I started out in community college, and have attended a 4 year college. Both schools operated the same, but I felt the CC was more personal. I just enjoy being there.I do plan on getting my BSN, but I will get my AAS first, which is at CC.

I asked a friend who watched Community if it demeaned CC, and she said it “Kind of poked fun I guess, but come on, everyone who has been to community college can understand. ” I mean, i love Joel McHale…but I don’t appreciate people demeaning my education. I won’t take it personally though. I would if someone was attacking me for my choices though.

casheroo's avatar

Ehh, I have some professors who don’t give a damn..I think it’s too much of a general assumption to say that professors at Universities care less. I’ve never had a grad student teach me though, it’s always been full blown professors, so I’m not sure what that’s like.

Sarcasm's avatar

I watched Community‘s pilot. It didn’t really feel like a jab at CCs, maybe I wasn’t looking hard enough.
Most of the people from my graduating class attend/ed Community College, but it was a small charter high school so (in my mind) it does make a bit more sense.

I spend more per-month on rent in this house than I do per-semester on my classes+books (Which is easy with my father’s disability pay from the military), it’s quite a relief.

My sister and mother both attended CC and then transferred to a UC. My brother and father both went straight to 4-year universities, so my family’s a bit split in experiences.
My brother’s opinion was that the only thing to miss about a 4-year is the freshman dorm experience.

I’ve learned a lot of great things at CC, and a majority of my teachers have been great.The few people that I know who do go to 4-years seem to always have a complaint about their teachers. That could just be coincidental.

@The_Compassionate_Heretic Yeah that’s what they were referred to out here before as well. According to my Sociology teacher a few semesters ago (who had been teaching 25+ years), they literally did have ash trays on the desks.
And it definitely does have a very high school feel to it.

bea2345's avatar

My daughter attends a community college. The tutoring has been excellent, she says.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@casheroo you know I found that a lot of the graduate students love teaching and what they do, as well…one of them, Ruti, said to me long ago..when I was a freshman taking a basic anthropology course that I should change my pre-med route and major in anthropology or sociology and that eventually I should do a PhD in either…I thought she was crazy…7 years later…I changed my route and am going in that exact direction, to a PhD in sociology…she was right…she had me pegged

laureth's avatar

I go to community college. I could never afford the bigger colleges, and I’m in my 30’s with a regular dayjob. Not a thing wrong with ‘em.

LJC's avatar

I attended and graduated a CC, and I think the new show is awesome.

I think CC can be helpful for some, but also a waste of money and time for others. If you have a plan, like nursing etc… or attending a 4 year school later, than CC has served you well. However, if you went b/c mom or dad forced you, or you think your Associates in Liberal Arts is worth something, than you, or mom/dad, are out money, and more importantly time you could have been working a real job.

photographcrash's avatar

I went to a small, 4 year, private school right out of high school. Couldn’t figure out what I wanted to do and ended up finishing with a (worthless) BA in Liberal Arts. Went to community college, and got the exposure I needed to a variety of options and now I am to semesters away from finally being done.

That being said, the commmunity college I go to has been, by far, a much better experience than the one I had at the 4 year private one. I have better professors, the school cares much more about me and my goals, the staff knows what they’re doing, and its at like..1/15 of the price. Whoever looks down on community colleges has obviously never been to one or know anyone who has. They strip away all the frills of a university and give you a great education.

I wish someone had told me when I was in high school to go straight to CC instead.. maybe I would be securely in a career by now minus the $100k worth of debt I have amassed to gain a virtually worthless degree from a school that doesn’t care about much more than if I pay them.

DominicX's avatar

I have nothing against CC and I know people who are doing it. Over a ⅓ of the people who went to my high school go to community college afterwards. I don’t look down on it, but I do, however, feel that it wasn’t for me and I’m doing what I want to do right now and I’m loving the 4-year private university.

If my kids wanted to go to CC, I would never tell them they couldn’t do it.

wildpotato's avatar

@Judi I see your point, and I think it’s a good one. But most of my grad school friends teach, and they care about it deeply, even to the point where their classes for grad school and their day jobs suffer. We’re in grad school to learn enough to teach, after all. Thanks, Simone, for sharing your positive experience of being taught by grad school students who actually care.

As far as community college goes… My experience with the stigma is minimal: I attended a private, extremely expensive 4 year program at a small liberal arts college. The initials of the college happen to be CC. When I told friends or family where I was going to college as a graduating senior in high school, the response was invariably “that’s nice, dear, but we really think you could do better than community college.”

I expect to teach at community colleges as a career someday. I hope I have students like you guys. Anyone know if their community college profs were able to get by on that alone, or if they usually had other jobs on the side as well?

J0E's avatar

btw, I thought Community was hilarious, but it isn’t helping CC’s image.

laureth's avatar

@wildpotato – My CC often doesn’t hire their teachers for full-time hours. As such, most of them have either been retirees looking for something to do, or have second jobs, or cobble together a full-time teaching career by teaching at 1–4 other local community colleges on different days.

Sarcasm's avatar

@wildpotato The 4 teachers I had for computer-related courses (Intro to computer science, Java programming, Hardware/OS fundamentals and Network fundamentals, for those of you who are keeping score at home) all talked about having other non-academic jobs in their respective fields (My programming teacher worked for a company doing coding. My network teacher designs and sets up networks for small businesses, etc), which really solidified my idea that they SHOULD be teaching this subject, it’s something they know from experience.
None of my other teachers, though, have ever mentioned another job (My German teacher is a classical guitarist, though).

mramsey's avatar

I go to cc. The teachers to seem to care more about students actually learning, showing up for class, etc. It is definitely a good experience for me.

perplexism's avatar

I wish I had gone to CC instead of a 4 year university. I plunged right into it without knowing what the hell I wanted to do with my life, and by the time I figured it out (somewhat), I decided that a four university wasn’t for me. Now I’m looking to head to a community college in the beginning of next year. Also, you can’t beat the affordability, especially for someone like me who already has a lot college loan debt.

deni's avatar

It is the smart thing to do, but it’s not as fun and it’s not as much of the “college experience” if you care about that. I go to community college, and I don’t love it, and there isn’t a football team to cheer on (which seems to be the reason some people choose certain schools. Ahem PSU) but it is SO cheap and it is the same courses, except smaller classes!

I’d like to hear more about this show, though. Seems fishy.

Sarcasm's avatar

@deni You can check out the pilot episode on Hulu.
Also, my school’s got a football team, sucks to be yooouuuu!

Supacase's avatar

I think it is a great way to save money and still end up with the same degree at the end. It makes a lot of sense.

Since they don’t have dorms and because many people attending CCs live at home while doing so, the social aspect is different than the usual first two years of being away from home at university. This can be a good or bad thing, depending on the person.

I went to a university my first semester, then to CC for a couple of semesters and then back to the university. I finished my general education requirements through distance learning CC classes while I was at the university and they were so much easier. I will say that it was a lot more like high school – I cannot imagine I would have had to do a construction paper model of DNA in Biology at the university.

deni's avatar

@Sarcasm Oh god, this show is so realistic. It reminds me of my school exactly. Very funny.

J0E's avatar

@deni Who says you can’t have the “college experience” after two years of CC? Actually it would probably be even better since you would have more money for booze (which I hear is a big part of the “college expirience”).

deni's avatar

@J0E Well you can have it after of course! But I meant during. Since you don’t live on campus and the social scene isn’t the same, as someone above mentioned. I mean come on, obviously I went to CC so I could save more money for drugs and booze ;)

casheroo's avatar

I’d love to know what this whole “college experience” thing is all about. I’ve been to both CC and a University. I never really did much at the University..I mean, I was a member of a couple clubs, but I can do that at CC as well. I also went out and did stupid things with friends while attending both. Is that the “college experience”?

laureth's avatar

IMHO, the “college experience” has a lot to do with being on your own for the first time.

Zen's avatar

I wouldn’t join a club that would have me as a member so easily.

Having snobbed said that: I agree with @johnpowell and @Simone_De_Beauvoir so I won’t do a repeat – read up to the first two comments if you wish.

First, isnt it what you do after those first years that count the most?

Secondly, there are weaker students and stronger students in every class in either school: you have to decide sometimes whether you want to be the proverbial big fish in a small pond (intellectually speaking)...

Sometimes, you luck out (in the good sense) and find courses and classes that are interesting and inspiring. Sometimes you get a teacher who loves to teach and is good at it. Sometimes, you just don’t want to be so challenged as to feel lost or tense or anxious all of the time. From the course itself, and/or from the financial burden (on someone at sometime).

I say, go for it. Go for what feels right.

You can change it up afterwards and even go back to school later on in life.

Find a job and discover you want to learn more about the job you’ve found, and not what you initially signed up for (whatcha gonna do with the degree in Lit and Philosophy exactly? I’m reminded of the late great Jim Croce who once said in a concert: I’m a fairly smart guy.. I got a degree in Philosophy and studied Art and Literature. It got me prepared for life in the 14th century).

School is cool. Which one – well, it really depends on the student moer than anything.

hearkat's avatar

I went to County College after I had dropped-out of a 4-year school and worked clerical jobs for a couple of years. I didn’t know what I wanted to do as a career, but I knew I’d need a degree. So I took the core courses that are required for all degrees, and browsed the course catalogue to see what else piqued my interest and took those courses as electives. I got my AA with Honors in the year I should have gotten my Bachelor’s but that didn’t matter to me, because I had the foundation and was headed in the direction of an actual career goal. As it turns out, the first choice wasn’t a good fit for me, but a closely related field was perfect. I went on to get my Master’s 17 years ago, and I love what I do.

As a parent to a recent High School grad, I think 2-year schools offer a great, affordable opportunity for those who are not clear on their goals, or who are not able to afford all 4 years at a bigger school. In NJ, tuition to Community Colleges is FREE if you graduate in the top 10% of your High School class—I think that’s a great deal for kids who are motivated but whose families might be struggling.

My son is not attending college at all (yet). He and his friend have an idea for a business and are focusing on that, and he plans to enroll in business classes in the spring.

Disc2021's avatar

Depends on where you go – some places are just big dumps and would be better off burning to the ground.

My community college is EXCELLENT – Not only are the professors intelligent and articulate but they encourage interaction and are very genuine/passionate about what they do. You rarely ever get a professor that doesn’t give a rats ass about the material (like some professors I’ve encountered at a Uni). I say, you get a great education for about a quarter of the cost of most colleges/universities and the credits pretty much transfer anywhere.

Best decision I’ve ever made – next year I’ll be entering into a core program at another university (and graduate with a 4 year degree).

onesecondregrets's avatar

Smartest money choice you could make if you want to further your education after high school.

tedibear's avatar

My brother-in-law did two years of CC and transferred to a University to do his Bachelor’s degree. He says it’s the smartest thing he could have done because he finished up his Gen. Ed. requirements for much less money. As the university he went to recognized all of those courses, he didn’t have to repeat anything.

My father-in-law has taught for almost 20 years at a CC and loves it. He retired from teaching high school two years ago but kept the CC because he enjoys it so much.

As an aside, my grand-nephew’s high school has an intensive program that allows students to complete both a high school diploma and an associates degree.

Gabby101's avatar

I went to community college for the first two years of college and then transferred to a University, got my BS, and then went on to one of the top medical schools in the country (yes, to become a doctor). I wasn’t the only one in my class to have done this.

Just realize that you have to work closely with the school to ensure that you are taking the appropriate classes so you can transfer to a four year college – do this from the begining – don’t wait until you are ready to transfer. Also, realize that competition will be tougher once you get to a four year college.

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