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Revisiting the Value of Community College

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Anna Gray
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Published on July 16, 2015

Do you remember the months approaching high school graduation when everyone was gushing about the schools they’d gotten into and bashing the ivy league they didn’t?

Many professionals will tell you that it doesn’t matter whether you go to one of the leagues or a state school; a C is the average across the board. If you go to a state school, however, you’re probably better off because  you won’t have nearly as much debt.

All the same, I can remember envying those that got into big name schools, experiencing anxiety about my own college enrollment, and I’m ashamed to admit, feeling a hint of pity for those who only got into community college.

But having attended both a two-year and four-year school, I have to admit I liked the two-year better. Not only were the classes shorter and less intimidating, but more of my professors were professionals still applying their trade.

I don’t know if I felt more sure of myself because I had a vision of my future after graduation or because I thought community college was for people who didn’t meet the grade requirements of four-year schools, but I felt more sure of myself than I ever had at my previous school.

It’s better to say that community college is for those who want to ease into college, whether you’re not emotionally or academically ready, or you just don’t know what you want. I went two years at a four-year school without declaring a major even though my classes were in the general direction of pre-med and English. Upon enrolling in a two-year program, the advisor sat me down and asked what my major would be. I chose English, and they offered journalism. Therein lies the fundamental  difference between a two-year and a four-year school: limited career-based curriculum.

My four-year degree prepared me for further study, but my two-year degree prepared me to work.

My professors required that I go out and find stories, conduct interviews and write pitch letters along with attending regular English lectures, completing readings and writing essays all in a year and a half. Best of all, I graduated with an awesome GPA and a letter inviting me to apply to Columbia at a fraction of the cost.

After graduation, I got my first internship with an award winning website and magazine publisher, which led to my first printed article. These were little victories that boosted my confidence and my marketability in a fraction of the time.

Upon returning to a four-year college, I was ineligible for any journalism classes since I had already taken them at the associate level. I’ve also finished all my requirements for my bachelor’s  degree, with the exception of five elective credits I don’t have the use or money for. I could take a seminar analyzing South Park for all the university cares, all to achieve a “well-rounded” academic portfolio. Maybe in this job market, where everyone demands a four-year degree, we should examine how much real world work experience  goes into it.

Anna Gray

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