Stigmas and Stereotypes
We asked them what people get wrong about community colleges and what they want to change about the conversation.
Above all, the fellows talked about stigmas and stereotypes. People see it as a cheap education, Benjamin Hanson says, and then think a person’s degree shouldn’t be taken as seriously as a degree from a four-year college.
Or, say Emma Hall and Oden Taylor, they don’t think community colleges are worth it or that they have any value other than their low price. There’s this idea, Emma adds, that the community college is where people go when they aren’t smart enough to make it into a Cal State or UC or some private institution.
“High School 2.0” is what Emily Forschen often hears it called, with people thinking that it somehow lacks “the college experience,” whatever that is.
The fellows talked about the realities they’ve experienced that counter those misperceptions: how their community college prepared them well for professional opportunities and how it gave their classmates a head start, above their four-year college peers, when they transferred to universities.
Emily, who’s now a student at San Diego State University, says the misperceptions sometimes carry into the student body itself.
She graduated from Las Positas College. “My school’s nickname is Lost Potential,” she says, “and a lot of the students had somewhat of a bummer attitude about the school as a whole.”
But international students saw it differently, and more like she sees it now. One student, for example, didn’t pass the college entrance exam in China but then had the opportunity to try college again at Las Positas.
“If it weren’t for community college,” Emily says, “she would’ve had a very different life. I think then I realized how incredibly, uniquely valuable community colleges are, especially for students seeking change or another chance.”