At Lutheran High, one of our central commitments to our students is to prepare them for college. This takes form in many ways, but includes helping students choose the right school for them. We understand the draw of a major university, but also want to shed light on some of the great community colleges in our state. Let’s first address some of the myths surrounding community college so you can make educated, informed decisions that will shape the rest of your life.
Myth #1 - Community college credits do not transfer to other schools.
FACT: It is true that transferring community college credits to another institution can be an arduous undertaking. However, there is a system in place to ensure that students receive credit at a new school for completing equivalent courses. This is not an insurmountable task and the more proactive you can be, the more straightforward the process will be. Seek out help from the very beginning, as you are selecting courses. Meet your academic advisor and discuss your goals, both short and long term. It is their job to help students navigate these institutions, so lean on them for guidance. They are versed in transferring credits as plenty of students spend their first two years exploring majors before heading to a larger university.
Myth #2 - People attend community colleges because they were not accepted into a major university.
FACT: Community college was originally designed as a more affordable option for obtaining a 4 year degree. Students who choose to attend a community college rather than a university can save thousands on tuition. Considering that Americans currently owe more than $3 trillion in student loans, a financially savvy student would be apt to choose a community college. The flexibility in scheduling allows many students to hold part- or full-time jobs to pay for school or save money. Graduating with little or no debt is a giant accomplishment itself, in today’s collegiate world. So myth busted: attending community college can be a wise financial choice, not a backup plan.
Myth #3 - If it costs less, the quality of education must be worse.
FACT: It’s not uncommon for a community college professor to also teach at a nearby university, putting this myth to rest. For some faculty, the smaller class sizes and the often more diverse student body are what draw them to teach at a community college. The courses are not watered down versions of corresponding university classes - in fact, they can be more robust because of the personal quality of teaching. And just the same as at a university, there is always a lot of support in a community college. It will be up to you to engage with advisors, professors, and other support staff in order to get the most out of your education - this is no different at a university.
Myth #4 - A community college degree won’t get you very far.
FACT: This couldn’t be further from the truth! With the quality of education being the same as a large university, what your success comes down to is how much effort and dedication you put into your time at any school. Your motivation, drive, and determination to achieve goals will be what ultimately leads to your success. If you need a little reassurance, just know that Tom Hanks, Calvin Klein, Walt Disney, Fred Haise (Apollo 13 astronaut), James Sinegal (CEO of Costco), and Rita Mae Brown (Author) all went to community colleges!
Myth #5 - There is no student life at a community college.
FACT: In fact, community colleges are home to a wide variety of clubs, activities, student art shows, and sports programs. They often have student governments that are committed to providing fun and safe events for students to gather and to make connections. If you are concerned that you might miss out on connection with fellow students by attending community college, remember that you get out what you put in. Much like the quality of the education you receive anywhere, the more time and energy you invest in your own success, the more success you will see.
It sometimes seems like community colleges get a bad rap. The truth is, they can be a wonderful and robust alternative to expensive universities. Students don’t attend these schools because they can’t attend “better” schools. It is often the opposite: students are making financially wise decisions to pay less for an equally high quality education. They are leaving with not only a degree, but usually some savings instead of debt.
We know community college isn’t the right fit for every LuHi grad. Over 85% of our student body goes on to a 4 year university. But, it is important that we help students find the best next step for their life. Be sure to talk with your guidance counselor to determine which college option is right for you.
Remember that you ultimately create your own experience, especially in a college environment. Commit to creating something positive and it won’t matter where you decide to go to college! You will succeed and you’ll enjoy the journey too.