Don’t you know that’s not REALLY college?

Check out this interesting read at the NYT about community colleges and perception of them vs “real” colleges:

The Community College/‘Real College’ Divide

My own experience with community college: I took college credit in high school through the MnSCU system, which includes community college. I completed my first two years of my bachelor’s degree at a local CC, and had a glorious time. My profs and the work were absolutely comparable to the instruction and coursework I had in my subsequent two years  at a four-year state liberal arts college. The cost for my two CC years was about one-fourth of what I paid for the second two.

When people talk smack about community colleges, I feel like I, a former humanities major, can finally empathize with science majors who can’t understand why the fuck anyone (and particularly someone not interested in teaching) would choose to get a degree in, say, English. I can’t understand what line of tripe these CC-hating folks have been fed. Don’t save money? You’ll miss out on a necessary four-year (plus, in some cases) experience in one static location? [Contradictorily, y]ou’ll miss out on opportunities to do more and go more [unstatic] places if you don’t go to a larger school with better funding?  CCs won’t have as varied environments and profs and students?

Happily, I never heard any of that garbage. Instead I saved a bunch of money, met a ton of great people, did a few inexpensive overseas educational trips, and paid off all my later and grad school loans before I turned thirty. But I did eventually experience my own community college-shaming, though, from a friend. Hilariously, I didn’t get it at first — because, you know, friend and all, but we were chatting about college and she wanted to know where I went to school. I launched into my standard job-interviewy breakdown.

Me: “Well, I did my first two years at a local community college — ”

[Note: normally I continue here to say things like, “because it was so cheap! And I could live with my parents while I went there! And I had a lot of fun meeting people and doing theater and I’m still pretty close with the friends I made there, and some of the profs I had! Such a good experience, blah blah blah, and then I went on and schooled myself some more with all my spare dollars, yay.” But this time –] 

Friend: “Wait. WAIT. YOU. Went to. COMMUNITY college?”

Friend: laughs and laughs and laughs.

Me: “What? Why are you laughing?”

Even at this point, I wasn’t offended — more confused. Like, really? Community college was a funny? Was this a Community joke I wasn’t getting? (Spoiler: no.) But now I know better. Saving money and still managing to get a decent education is for silly plebes! And, er, people who don’t have much money. Ah, well. I did try to convince her that it was a good experience and I managed to put intelligent things into my brain, but I fear we left the subject much the same place we entered it, which was: I went to community college, and my friend thought that was incredibly humorous.

Somewhat unrelatedly: I find it funny that this article is written for a “parenting” section or blog, but then, who plans college but parents? Kids don’t care, right? I mean, I did, but whatever.


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