Community college is not ‘the 13th grade’

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A common misconception many people have about community college is that it’s like “the 13th grade.” People often assume going to community college means the environment and the curriculum will be just like high school, but in my experience, that is not true.

Some think going to a junior college means failing or falling behind those who attend four-year universities. Even LMC has been referred to as “Lost My Chance” rather than Los Medanos College, but where a person goes to school should not determine their level of intelligence.

The main differences between most community colleges and four-year institutions are that community colleges typically offer associates degrees and certificates. At four-year institutions, students can generally earn bachelors, masters or doctoral degrees. But just because junior colleges don’t offer as many options for degrees, doesn’t mean it’s not beneficial.

Before coming to LMC, my views fairly negative. At the time, the only benefit I saw in going to a community college, was not having to practically sell my soul in order to pay for my education. Having to attend a community college was a failure to me when compared to my older brother’s enrollment at the prestigious Stanford University.

However, now having been here for the past year, I can see the advantages in attending a community college straight out of high school compared to a California State University or University of California.

For example, because attending a junior college costs significantly less, it allows for students to figure out their educational plan, what they what to do in the future and develop the skills needed for a job for less money.

At LMC, there are Career Technical Education programs that help students gain the skills needed to enter the career of their choice.

Class sizes at universities are also much larger than at a community college and it can be difficult for students to meet with their professors and have one on one interactions. This can make it hard for students to ask questions and grasp concepts as well as make connections with their teachers.

In addition to being more available for students, professors at community college are normally experienced in their field and are dedicated to their teaching roles, while at a four-year institution, professors combine their teaching positions with researching.

In some cases, universities will have graduate students with less experience lead their classes.

Students choose to attend community college for a variety of reasons, such as how close it is to home or the lower cost. While four-year universities are generally perceived as consisting of mostly students in their late-teens to mid-20s, Community colleges are often eclectic and have students of all ages pursuing their educational goals.

One of the possible disadvantages in attending a community college, is missing out on the experiences one might have at a four-year college. At a two-year, people do not always have opportunities to participate of Greek life, live on campus and overall, feel free to make their own decisions for the first time in their life.

Another pitfall of attending a community college, is students do not usually feel the same school spirit and sense of unity that one would have at a university. There are often events on campus that are attended by a small percentage of LMC’s students. Sometimes there’s a feeling of general apathy from the student body.

However, there are a lot more opportunities than one would originally think such as study abroad programs, various clubs and on campus events that try to achieve this.

Whether community college feels like high school or not depends on the person and their attitude. There are many opportunities for students to take in order to ensure they are able to easily transition to a four-year university or a career, but it’s up to the person to take them and form their own academic path toward success.