PROF. GIORDANO: Community college is a better, more viable alternative for many students
I can say from personal experience that there are many benefits to attending community college, and it was the best academic and financial decision I ever made.
Nicholas Giordano is a professor of Political Science, the host of The P.A.S. Report Podcast, and a fellow at Campus Reform’s Higher Education Fellowship. With 2 decades of teaching experience and over a decade of experience in the emergency management/homeland security arena, Professor Giordano is regularly called on to speak about issues related to government, politics, and international relations.
When considering options for education after high school, too many parents and students shy away from community college. For years, academic snobs have denigrated these institutions because they believe the quality of education is inferior. It has been referred to as the ‘13th grade’ and ‘not real college,’ discouraging those who may benefit most from attending a community college.
Over the last couple of years, companies have begun to place less emphasis on college degrees and more on technical and interpersonal skills. As four-year institutions continue to push a far-left agenda, students are not learning the practical skills needed in the workplace. For most families, unreasonable tuition rates have led to unfeasible debt burdens leading many to question the cost vs. benefit analysis of attending four-year schools.
I can say from personal experience that there are many benefits to attending community college, and it was the best academic and financial decision I ever made. My academic performance throughout high school was far from stellar. Community college offered me a way to improve my grades and earn academic scholarships that ultimately saved me thousands of dollars throughout my college education.
Many of the professors at four-year institutions prioritize research over education, whereas the community college professor focuses on an individual student’s comprehension and progress. Because of incredible professors like these, I was able to master the subject material.
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A major benefit of community college is fewer students in the classroom. The average community college class is comprised of 25-35 students, whereas the number of students for an introductory course at a four-year institution can range from 150 to as many as 300 students. It is important to point out that these classes are often taught by graduate students and not credentialed professors. The smaller class size allowed me to develop relationships with my professors, igniting my passion for education and contributing to my academic success.
When it comes to the student body at four-year institutions, most students come from similar socioeconomic backgrounds and are not as diverse as they pretend to be. The student body at a community college includes a typical college student, students working full-time while attending school, students with young children, and adults returning to the classroom for the first time in years. This type of diversity fosters a different mindset, engaging less in activism because of their real-life situations.
It is this diversity that makes community colleges far less ideological compared to four-year institutions. Since most community colleges are commuter schools, professors and students do not fall victim to the ideological bubble. They do not have time to sit around and have endless debates about radical theories leading to indoctrination. This is not to say far-left ideologues do not exist on community college campuses, as there are plenty of examples of this indoctrination throughout all levels of academia.
Many of the faculty at community colleges are not part of the institutional groupthink that infects the university system. The woke activism has gone so far that more and more professors are fed up and speaking out.
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The most obvious benefit is the lower cost, saving students and parents tens of thousands of dollars. For the 2021-2022 academic year, the average cost of a public community college was approximately $3,770 per year. Compare that to a public four-year institution which costs $10,560 per year for in-state tuition and $27,020 for out-of-state tuition. The annual cost of a private university is a whopping $37,650, plus an additional $13,120 for room and board. To put it in a better perspective, attending community college allowed me to obtain a bachelor’s degree and two graduate degrees for what most students borrow for a single bachelor’s degree.
Attending community college affords the student many options. Those who wish to pursue academics can transfer to four-year schools. Others can learn a trade or enroll in more technical program areas, such as nursing or cyber security. Some may choose to enter civil service that, in many cases, does not require a four-year degree. For example, most law enforcement agencies in New York State require 60 college credits, making it illogical to spend tens of thousands of dollars at a four-year institution.
No student should feel embarrassed, discouraged, or shame for attending a community college. Community colleges have done a poor job at self-promotion. However, with the deepening recession, and as more Americans question the value of four-year institutions, community college is a better and more viable alternative for many.
Editorials and op-eds reflect the opinion of the authors and not necessarily that of Campus Reform or the Leadership Institute.