I had a rather odd college experience in that I attended a community college, a private college, and a public university. I loved two of them, hated the third. But what I learned from the experience is that the best way to choose the type of school you attend is not something they tell you at career day.
I went to community college straight out of high school, so I found a familiar face in ever hallway. Our running joke was that the only difference between college and high school was the ashtrays in the halls.
Who may love it:
- Kids not ready to move away from home. My primary reason for going to Community was to live at home a couple more years, and I’m so glad I did.
- Anyone who didn’t really pay attention before Junior year. Hey, it happens. If you sluffed off classes in high school, Community is the best way to get up to speed before you hit the upper-level classes. Essentially, every college everywhere will force the same core classes on you, so why spend four times the money for English 101 if you don’t have to?
- Anybody frugal. Like most kids at Community, I worked my way through so I could save up a nest egg before moving out on my own.
- Shy guys. I always had a hard time speaking up in class. Only at a Community College do you get one-on-one time with professors in the basic classes. Most CC Professors aren’t juggling the high number of classes, so they tend to take time actually responding to requests, answering follow-up questions, and even making themselves available after class. Also, most classes tend to be smaller so even if you do have to talk in class, it’s a less intimidating group.
Who will hate it:
- Kids looking for a social scene. Sure, some of your friends from high school might turn up here, but even if they do, odds are they’re also working, so they’ll have little spare time. And most of the students are just there for classes, not to hang out.
- People embarrassed about not going to a “real” college. There’s still a stigma for some people, like everyone will think they’re going there because they’re not good enough to get in anywhere else. If you are in this camp, pass on going to Community or you’ll spend two years mumbling the name of the college and scurrying away whenever someone asks where you go.
- The kids who aren’t really excited about college but are doing it to appease their parents. If you’d rather take time off, you need to be honest about it. The first thing you’re going to learn at college is that it’s easy to skip classes and nobody’s ever going to call your folks when you do. The second thing you’ll discover is that it’s incredibly hard to stay motivated to go every day after you’ve found out that first thing.
This isn’t universal, but at my Community College, most of the teachers were doing this as a side job. (Remember that I’m from a small Midwestern area before you laugh too hard at this, but …) The Business classes were taught by upper management of local businesses. I took a Psych class from the County Attorney and a Juvenile Delinquency class from a Police Chief. And our Mayor taught History!
It’s easy to tune out when someone is reading to you from a boring textbook, but nothing brings it to life more than people riffing with stories from their own lives.