Posts Tagged ‘Community college’

Destroying the stigma surrounding community colleges

Friday, November 3rd, 2017

By Haeli Maas

Collegian columnist

Growing up I always thought I would be at a four-year university, a member of a sorority, and meeting my best friend in the dorms.

I dreamt in middle school of all the good times I would have attending to the football games, walking around campus, and going out on Friday nights with my friends.

When high school came around and college became a real, tangible thing, I started to realize how much this “dream college experience” would cost me. At an early age I figured out what money meant to me, and I knew that by attending a four-year university I would be putting myself in a lot of debt. My GPA wasn’t as high as it could have been coming out of high school, so the scholarship opportunities available to me were slim. I had to decide quickly what path I wanted to take in my life to become successful and try to keep my debt at a minimum.

Enter Hutchinson Community College. By junior year of high school, I was thinking pretty seriously about attending a community college for the first two years of my education. There had been admissions representatives at my high school for the different community colleges in Kansas, and I decided to visit Hutchinson Community College. Note: I did NOT want to end up at a community college.

From early on, it was hammered into my head that community colleges gave you sub-par education for a cheap price tag, and were not viable options when it comes to going to a “good” college (i.e. a four-year). I did not enter my visit with the idea that I wanted to end up at a community college because I felt that people would think that I was unable to make it at a four-year. But either way, I decided to visit HCC and see what it would offer.

During my visit, I noticed that the college wasn’t very different from a 4-year, except maybe in size. It offered all the same classes, all of the same extracurriculars, and all the same things you would find at a state school. While I liked that it would offer the same experience, I made my decision the moment I saw the cost breakdown for tuition. Tuition was half of what it costs to go to a four-year, and it was closer to home so I wouldn’t have to pay to live on campus. I made my decision because it was what made sense for me financially, but in the back of my mind I still believed that I was missing out on something by going to a community college. I found that it was far from the truth.

Coming to a community college was an amazing choice for me financially, but I realized that there is no difference between a four-year and two-year other than class size.

The community college track offered a 17:1 student-teacher ratio, while a general education class at a four-year had lecture halls with over 100 students in them. My teachers know my name, they know how well I do, and they are willing to help me out when I need it. I am being taught by someone with a doctorate in their field, instead of a teaching assistant. I am learning the material in my classes because I am encouraged to ask questions.

I realized that the quality of my education at a two-year was not the same: it was actually better. Because most people who go to two-years are looking to transfer, all of the advisors have information on what classes are required at the four-year of your choice and can make a plan that allows you to take all of the classes you can at a two-year (for half the cost) that still transfer to a four-year. I met new people just like I would at a university, and I am still having a good experience.

The big difference is: now that it is time for me to transfer to the University of Kansas in the Spring, I have no debt. None at all. I owe nothing for the first two years of my education. Most universities offer scholarships for transfer students, and because I took my schooling more seriously at the college level, I was able to receive the highest amount of money that they offer.

Though I do have to take out my first student loan, I can do so knowing that I will not have four years’ worth of debt by the time I graduate, but only two. I see every day the stigma that surrounds community colleges, but the reality is that it is the same level of education that you receive at a university, and you save thousands of dollars. I am proud to have come here because it was a decision that safeguarded my future and opened up opportunities to me that would not have been available if I had let my emotions decide my fate.

Hanks credits community college with his success

Sunday, February 8th, 2015

By Shelby Horton



Tom Hanks recently wrote an opinion piece in the New York Times, entitled, “I owe It All to Community College,” describing his experiences as a college student in the 1970s.

In the wake of President Obama’s recent proposal for free community college, Hanks’ piece helped spur discussion on the topic.

The Academy Award-winning actor described his time at Chabot Community College in Hayward, Calif.

Starting as an underachieving student with low SAT scores, he had applied to two upscale universities and was denied.

Hanks entered Chabot, where he expanded his horizons and began to find his way in life.

“I made Chabot’s dean’s list taking classes I loved, classes I loathed, classes I aced and classes I dropped within the first hour,” Hanks said. “Classes I took at Chabot have rippled through my professional pond.”

Hanks said community college can be for everyone, not just new high school graduates, but for veterans, mothers, and people looking to improve their lives through a quality education.

Dr. Carter File, president of Hutchinson Community College, describes a community college as a servant of the community. It provides the resources and education to help better the individual and the community as a whole, he said.

“Community colleges are sometimes looked down upon because they’re not a big university,” said Debra Pitzer, HCC nursing program coordinator.

“To know someone like Tom Hanks benefited from community college is exciting news,” she said.

The staff at HCC passed around Hanks’ article on Jan. 14 via email. File had received several emails that spread like a viral video, containing the article’s URL, before he even had time to read them.

The HCC staff is divided on the proposal, though some agree with the idea, but with caution.

“The proposal is bold, ambitious and worth pursuing,” said David Planthold, HCC social media coordinator. “Our education system is in a crisis, with a 30% dropout in high school. Funding this program provides hope that an investment in time will lead to a fulfilling career.”

Hanks has shown his support for the free community college proposal, by telling of his own experiences in a two-year school.

“I hope the idea of free college sticks,” he said.

As Hanks ended his New York Times guest column, he reminisced about how community college had played a key role in his life.

“That place made me what I am today,” he said.