Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Flame-Thrower at Ready

Smallholder said he was ready for a flaming. Well, here it comes, my friend. First, read his post. Second, I respect Smallholder and his opinion, even when he is wrong. This is one of those times. Now, onto the flaming.... I graduated from a local community college. I have attended SIX different colleges in my college career. I have attended high-quality, expensive, private colleges, state colleges, and (obviously) community colleges. I tend to think I have a pretty well-rounded view on colleges. That is not to say mine is the only view. So here is my experience, and why I think Smallholder is WRONG. (In reality, he said he was ready for a flaming, and I can't resist a man that asks for it. 'Cause I love his writing, as a general rule.) Community colleges do not necessarily have professors that are lacking in quality. Many professors are adjunct, from larger colleges and universities; they work at community colleges to make some extra money as a supplement to their salaries. Many are working on their graduate degrees, and are therefore excellent, fresh, and knowledgeable, but they cannot get a full-time position with a larger university. Some professors may not be able to get a position with the local colleges due to the lack of demand in their field - they may not want to or be able to move to where there is a position available. So they get a job with the local community college. And yes, some of them are lacking in quality - just like you will find at ANY college or university out there. To suggest that the professors and instructors at community colleges are substandard is absolutely untrue. It is just like any other college - it has good eggs and bad eggs. I have had several excellent professors from my community college experience, and some bad ones - and when I paid $20,000/semester at an EXCELLENT school, I had the same experience. Students at community colleges are not substandard either. Yes, some are people out of high school who didn't know where to go or what to do. There are also those that want to save some money by going locally for the first two years and banging out their liberal arts classes, those that are alternative or non-traditional students, those that are returning to school for enjoyment purposes, etc. Some of us have to work to get through school because we don't come from families who can or want to help us through, so attending a small, local school with a flexible schedule is the only way. I attended a community college where my classes were a huge mix of students and backgrounds - I found the combination brought facets to discussion and debate I NEVER had a traditional school with a traditional class of students who are still teenagers with mom and dad paying their way. So that assumption is bunk, my friend. Is going to a community college as impressive as going to a 4 year school? It depends. Our local community college has an excellent reputation, so graduating there is a good mark on your resume. They have rankings and value just like any other school. And if you continue on to your four-year (or more) degree, you just saved some money, and got a very good value for your money. I am not denying the bragging-rights of ivy league educations. But many of us make do with "lesser" schools, and still get a good education in the process. I don't feel insulted or denegrated by this discussion. Reality is, when you haven't been there or had a bad experience, it creates a bias. I have had positive and negative experiences in community schools, as well as full-throttle universities. Preconceptions and prejudices are just that - you have to dig a little deeper. Flame ended.