Photo courtesy of College of Dupage
Despite offering an immense amount of opportunities, community colleges are commonly associated with a negative stigma. Students like myself who plan on attending community college, such as College of DuPage, take advantage of the affordability, flexibility, and school-to-life balance that it offers. But my decision to enroll has come with many misconceptions.
People tend to assume that I either cannot afford a four-year university or that I have poor academic performance, neither of which is the case. Many factors influence a student’s decision, the biggest one being the uncertainty of their career path. Community colleges offer excellent academic programs to prepare students for a career certificate or to transfer to a four-year university. Starting with community college is an affordable option to begin your academic career. Many students seem to agree, seeing as how in the 2015-2016 school year, 38 percent of all undergraduate students enrolled in community colleges.
The biggest trade-off for students attending community college is the so-called ‘college experience’. After high school, many students, 750,000 to be exact, plan on joining a fraternity or sorority or playing a sport in college, which is the most common factor of students choosing a four-year university. For someone like myself, who does not plan on joining any sorority or sport, the lack of the ‘college experience’ in my first two years of college is not something that I am worried about. The biggest difference, I’ve realized, between university and community college comes down to what you decide to do with your time, rather than what you decide to study. I’ve been told over and over again by many college graduates that it is your degree that lands you the job, not what school you attended.
There’s been several successful people who chose to pursue community college before pursuing higher education, including Morgan Freeman, Steve Jobs, Elizabeth Warren, and Tom Hanks. Whether you are considering community college as an option or not, the biggest takeaway I hope to leave you with is breaking the stigma of community college. It really is a stepping stone for many students. College of DuPage, specifically, provides quality education to more than 24,000 students, most of whom will go on to transfer into a university, graduate with a degree, and sit in the same office with those four-year graduates. The only difference? The student who chose to attend community college first find thousands of dollars more in their pockets.