Thursday, October 30, 2008

Community Colleges; No Joke

I saw this article in The Wall Street Journal and was reminded about some experiences. I know people from all sorts of schools. I've been less impressed with those from the top names. Community colleges are fantastic values and they get the job done. I had no idea what I wanted for a major and had never had any luck with good advice form career counselors. The one at the community college got me on the right track. The other ninnies had me in business, which has always been just a hobby, an interest. She put me in science and that degree has opened more doors than I could imagine. Community Colleges are often used by retired professionals to contribute at a more fundamental level. It's saying something when someone could be off earning high five or even six figure salaries as a consultant or author, but they choose to be out helping youngsters instead for about half the money they'd make elsewhere.

I also met many instructors there who have truly improved my life. One was a former intelligence officer in the Army, who was the closest thing to a real father I've ever had. Another professor told me that my writing was "interesting, not Shakespeare, but interesting." He said I didn't write like the others. It meant a lot to me as a young moron, now an older one, to have an instructor make a point of knowing names and faces and the last paper you turned in to him. That's the kind of individual attention one gets at a community college. They know your name, and they really care about what you are or aren't learning. It's not all happy talk. They'll get on you if you slack off too. Another note is that while some of questionable intellect look down on community colleges, I've never had that as an issue at a job interview. In fact, going to a local school has worked better for me than having a fancy school name that might be 1000 miles away. Two words that defeat the school name argument are "Bush" and "Yale."

If someone wants a fancy piece of paper, by all means focus on name schools. Community colleges, especially in Virginia, are nothing to be ashamed of. From the article:
The cheapest option is community colleges, where tuition and fees average $2,402 this year. Enrollments at these two-year colleges have jumped as much as 20% at some schools, according to the American Association of Community Colleges.

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