Don't underestimate value of community college
Published: Sunday, September 15, 2013
Updated: Sunday, September 15, 2013 22:09
About a week ago, I received a text from my mom:“Hey, you got a package from McHenry County College. Do you know what could be in it?” I got excited, because I had a pretty good guess.
I texted back, “Oh! I think it’s my associates. Do you want to open it?”
And she did — a day later, I got my associates degree in a nice diploma cover with “McHenry County College” on the front, the school seal beneath, and on the inside was my degree in the right panel.
I was very proud of what I had accomplished in four straight semesters from May 2012 to August 2013.
People who have never been to a community college — and even a few people who have — dread them.
They aren’t as “prestigious” and respected as a four-year college or university. Why would you even go to a community college?
Most people who go there are just kids who need something to do after high school, or have no idea what they even want to do.
And let’s face it, poorer people go to community colleges.
I’ll admit that I had those misconceptions, too. I was infuriated that I had to go to MCC in the summer of 2012 because financial issues had forced me out of the university I’d gone to at first.
I only planned to be at MCC for only one or two semesters- definitely not four.
I attempted to go back to my first university for the 2012-2013 school year and then just the spring 2013 semester, but it was a private school that had originally roped me in with a $15,000 scholarship that didn’t even cover half of the tuition minus housing.
I was just so fed up with that school, I gave up on it. But not without inspiration from two things offered at MCC.
First was being inducted into Phi Theta Kappa, an honors fraternity for community colleges.
Through that program, I gained access to “College Fish,” an online database of all of the four year colleges and universities across the country that offered any kind of transfer scholarship.
The second thing was the Undergraduate Research Scholar Program, offered for the first time at MCC in the spring of 2013.
This meant that I could work on real undergraduate research with a professor while I was earning my associates.
It was an unbelievably rare opportunity that I seized and worked on for over seven months, completing a 16-page literary criticism of “The Lord of the Rings.”
Those two things were offered to me only at this community college, I was able to find the ETSU Midway Honors Program ... and got accepted.
So I hung up my associates degree with pride above my bed, because if it weren’t for that school, I wouldn’t be here today.