Misconceptions tarnishes community colleges reputation

By Marissa Ruiz

The biggest misconception about community colleges is its education does not compare to the education of a university.

I have experienced that, aside from my friends that actually go to community colleges, nearly all of the people I know dismiss my education because of the mistaken lack of prestige community colleges, in general, are known for.

In high school I took AP classes and was thoroughly involved with my school from sports to speech to our district’s school board.

I earned good grades and applied to four-year universities and got in. I decided which school to go to based on which school had the best journalism program for me because I planned to major in journalism.

At the time, I was unsure if journalism was even my passion and if investing in and attending a school solely for its journalism program was the right choice, considering I was unsure if I even wanted to major in journalism.

Because of this, I ended up deciding to attend a community college to buy myself more time to explore a wider range of classes and subjects so that, by the time I finished my general classes, I would have a better idea of which job field I wanted to enter and could make the perfect choice when it came to deciding which four-year to transfer to.

I was not going to go off of how I felt during my senior year of high school. I wanted to mature and make a well-rounded decision.

ELAC has been an excellent school for me. I have been able to explore different fields all while still completing what I need to complete to transfer.

I have met so many different types of people and have had excellent experiences in my classes with my classmates and teachers. The only struggle with my education had been the dismissal of my education by family and friends. Units are units. If I take a statistics class here at ELAC, I learned the same subject as I would have learned at UC Riverside.

Many individuals have the conception that community colleges are not held at the same level as universities because of the difference in cost and less requirements that are needed for enrollment.

Universities are often considered the “smarter” schools. By attending ELAC before attending a four-year, I am saving thousands of dollars and still receiving the exact same courses and units I would need if I went to a four-year.

In addition, I can more easily go to the school of my choice by completing the courses for certain majors for certain schools verses if I applied as a freshman. By starting off at a two-year, I built up more units and gave myself even more opportunities to earn high grades and involve myself to show my dream school all I can do. Some logical individuals might take these facts and deem starting off at a two-year is the wiser decision.

When I was discussing with my friend, who is a student at UC Irvine she said that she was just happy that I was getting some sort of education.

Indeed, I am getting an education. An education that is the same as hers. I have 17 units, she has 12. She had to take out a student loan, I am loan free. I work just as hard, if not harder, than her. Above all, we both receive college educations of the same caliber. Yet, this idea that community colleges are not as serious still exists with no reason other than the difference in cost and enrollment.

I have classmates who attend four-year colleges in my classes at ELAC because they could not receive certain classes at their four-year.

I also have friends that, this past Fall, left to attend out-of-state four-year universities for certain programs, realized the school and major programs were not for them, so before spring semester un-enrolled in their four-year and enrolled in community colleges to straighten out where they wanted to go.

If they began at a community college, they would have had a chance to decide which school was best for them before hand and saved money on plane tickets and tuition.

I have involved myself in ELAC and achieved high grades, yet individuals still dismiss my education. Which they base off of long-existing, evidence-lacking ideas. If saving money, working towards my major, chasing opportunities, meeting all types of people varying in age ranges and backgrounds and receiving the exact same college education I would receive elsewhere is settling and not as prestigious, then I accept those judgments and allow the illogical to throw their judgments my way.

At the end of the day, as frustrating as judgments passed on my college education may be, I know that the units I earn are the same as my friends at four-years earns.

It is up to two-year students to understand that part of attending a real smart-school like ELAC is to be able to ignore the misinformed. The smart students use logic and fact to decide what is actually true and what is not. If the education is the same, the schools are equal.

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