Don’t Overlook the Value of Community College

When considering the college search process or applying to college, people often overlook Community Colleges. However, these institutions are a vital part of our higher education system, providing opportunities and access for students that traditional four-year schools may not. With over 4,000 colleges and universities in the US, community colleges make up about 35% of those institutions and should be considered in the college admission process. While they may not be the right choice for everyone, they can serve as a stepping stone for those uncertain about their post-secondary path.

I recently made arrangements for my 11-year-old twins to attend a three-week kids’ college camp at Tarrant County College in Texas. This camp offers a fantastic opportunity for young students to become acquainted with a college campus environment while engaging in academic classes. The cost of this program stands out as remarkably reasonable, at only $200 per student. This provides invaluable exposure to a college setting that may not be easily accessible on traditional four-year campuses. Additionally, high school students have the option to enroll in dual enrollment courses, allowing them to earn college credits while still in high school. These credits not only offer financial savings upon college enrollment, but also facilitate a smoother transition for students entering flagship and public state institutions in states like California, Texas, North Carolina, and others. This kind of exposure and opportunity at a young age is truly invaluable for their academic and personal development.

These dual enrollment programs also function as equity initiatives, benefitting students from high schools that lack Advanced Placement (AP) or International Baccalaureate (IB) programs by providing necessary college preparatory rigor. These great opportunities often equip them with the competitiveness needed for application to more selective four-year institutions.

Community colleges have been the starting point for many successful individuals such as Tom Hanks, Queen Latifah, George Lucas, Halle Berry, and Clint Eastwood, as well as athletes like Aaron Rodgers, Cam Newton, and Chris Sale. It’s important to consider alternative pathways to obtaining a bachelor’s degree as not everyone follows the traditional four-year college route. Community colleges offer a unique environment where students have the opportunity to grow academically, athletically, and personally, and engage with peers from diverse backgrounds, fostering an enriching and inclusive community.

I have a deep appreciation for the significant role that community colleges play in our society, especially on a personal level. During my formative years, my father was the Vice President at Mountain View College, which is part of the Dallas College system, and my mother served as the Director of Counseling at Tarrant County College. I also began my professional journey at Atlanta Metropolitan State College (Official), which was a community college at that time. Community colleges hold the key to opening up access to higher education, offering avenues for both personal and professional advancement. They embody the message that Shereem Herndon-Brown and I have been advocating across the nation to “Redefine success”. This is not merely a statement, but a philosophy that forms an integral part of my life. I sincerely hope that you will appreciate the invaluable role that community colleges play in providing a sense of optimism and opportunity to numerous young individuals, paving the way for an education that is not only within reach but also attainable.

Written for Understanding the Choices

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