Almost every student wants to go to a “good” college. It's what defines success in America. However, the notion that without a prestigious college degree you won’t be successful in life seems to loom large in the minds of young students—especially in Massachusetts. With the college applications coming to a close, how many seniors in Boston have applied to Bunker Hill or Roxbury Community College?
According to the School and District Profiles, Only 33 percent of Boston kids enrolled in community colleges in the 2014-2015 school year. Why not more? In Massachusetts, community college are sometimes treated as the ugly duckling of higher education. Students are often reluctant to apply to them, but they turn out to be the best option for some students.
By attending a community college first, it is easier to transfer to a private college later on instead of applying directly to a private college. If you go to a community college and get good grades, colleges know you are capable of handling demanding and rigorous classes. You become more desirable to them because you have more experience.
Another pro of attending a community college is that there is less pressure if you are unsure of your major or career plans. If you are undecided, you’re not spending more money at a private college trying to figure yourself out. Additionally, if you only complete two years at a community college you may still earn an associates degree. While at a private college, if you drop out after two years, all you’re left with is earned credits, a lot of debt and no degree.
Community college also allows students to work at their own pace. They generally have flexible hours, meaning that if a student has to work to provide for their family, they can still take the classes they need at times that are convenient to them.
Yvonne, a senior at John D. O’Bryant (whose last name has been withheld for privacy), stated that “Because [kids in Massachusetts] have grown up around high ranked schools...they would feel less successful going to a public college rather than attending a private one. Society has told us that we are not valuable or we won’t get a job if we don’t attend college, or that people who go to community college didn’t try hard enough in school and that's why they went to a community college.”
What you do with your degree can matter more than the college you attend. Mikhail Darlington, the college and career advisor at SquashBusters, advised, “Everyone has their own path and their own journey, what you do and how you utilize your time is more important.” Massachusetts students needs to change the way they view community colleges. Your success is not defined by how many steps it took for you to get there.