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Community College? A New Choice?

Discussion in 'Issues Around the World' started by ethics, Dec 17, 2002.

  1. ethics

    ethics Pomp-Dumpster Staff Member

    Long derided as repositories for underachievers, as trade schools devoid of academic rigor, community colleges are recasting themselves as wise first choices for the serious student looking to sidestep crushing debt.

    <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2002/12/15/education/15COLL.html?8bhp=&pagewanted=print&position=top">Community colleges have been busy reshaping their curricula in order to attract the more academically elite</a>.

    To gain admittance to the new honors collegeat Miami-Dade Community College, a student must score a minimum of 1200 on the SAT and have a 3.7 grade point average -- and studying abroad is 'strongly encouraged':

    'You'd have to be crazy not to take advantage of us.... You get all this for practically nothing, you save $30,000 at a minimum and then get to go the university almost of your choice, very often on a scholarship.' More than 168 community colleges now have honors programs, 68 of which were started just in the last five years, compared with about two dozen 15 years ago.

    We have a few professors on this forum, so I'd like to hear their thoughts of this evaluation.
  2. Misu

    Misu Hey, I saw that.

    I used to go to Miami-Dade Community College when I lived in Miami - back then it was refferred to as "Kendall Tech", because it was located in a town called Kendall.

    After attending that CC, I'm skeptical that any change has occurred - those were some of the laziest professors I've ever had the misfortune of meeting. With the exception of 2 or 3, none of them were fit to be college professors - some of them were high school and middle school teachers, working at the CC for extra cash. They wouldn't hide this fact, either.

    Plus, considering what the average student in High school is like in Miami, I don't think their GPA requirement of 3.7 is going to hold for very long... The school will go bankrupt.
  3. ethics

    ethics Pomp-Dumpster Staff Member

    Jeez, Misu, you just killed my thread! ;)

    Seriously, personal account like that is very valuable, and I thank you.
  4. Steve

    Steve Is that it, then?

    I did my first two years at Anne Arundel Community College, in Maryland. Perhaps it was the exception, as there was talk of turning it into a four-year institution.

    I found, with a few exceptions, most of my instructors to be very competent and capable; the facilities were great; the material balanced and thorough.

    As with any school, from day care on up the ladder, the quality depends on many factors. I would say that I believe the two primary things to consider, for any prospective student are:

    a) will all of the credits earned at the chosen CC transfer to the four-year college of choice; and,

    b) am I motivated enough to seek out the excellent instructors and courses and apply myself so that any potential shortcomings in the school can be overcome by dint of hard work.
  5. Misu

    Misu Hey, I saw that.

    Stevent, excellent points - when I attended MDCC and then transferred to another school, many of my credits were not accepted at the new school - I had to retake several courses before I could actually complete my AA to transfer to the University. What should have taken me another 2 semesters took 3 1/2 because my credits would not transfer.

    As far as excellent instructors are concerned, MDCC is the only school where I had a distance-learning class (no regular classes, you just meet up for exams and submit work through the mail to your instructors) I had where I never once met the instructor - everything we submitted was graded by his TA's and on test days, his TA's would proctor the exams. I tried several times to meet with him, only to find that the person waiting for our appointment was a TA!

    For the sake of the future of this planet, I really do hope MDCC has changed - it is frightening the number of students that go through that place every year.
  6. joseftu

    joseftu ORIGINAL Pomp-Dumpster

    I've been a teacher at a community college for over fifteen years.
    I've also taught from time to time (as a visiting lecturer) at Pratt Institute, NYU, The New School, and Columbia. My Bachelor's degree is from UC Berkeley, one of my Masters is from Columbia, another from the City University of New York, and my Ph.D. is also from CUNY. I'm qualified, and have been offered opportunities, to teach in more "prestigious" Universities. But I'm proud and happy to teach community college.

    My students are (generally--there are always exceptions) the most motivated, responsible, eager learners I've ever encountered. They're in college because they want to be, they're adults, they're working hard and they want to learn and succeed.
    Some of my students have gone on to Vassar, the Sorbonne, NYU, Columbia, Yale, and so on.

    Two years ago our chess team defeated Harvard for the national championship.

    Community college, at least in my experience, has never deserved to be "derided as a repository for underachievers."
    We're the second chance for some, the first chance for others (immigrants, people who had to drop out of school to work to support their families, people who went to jail, people who screwed up at other schools), but we're not afraid to flunk out underachievers.

    We let anyone in, so our standards have to be high. There is no "gentleman's B" like there is at Princeton or Columbia.
    In addition, students tell me all the time, the attention and caring and real teaching skill from professors at community colleges is unequalled anywhere else in academia.

    I know people who teach at major research institutions whose preference would be to never see an undergraduate.
    I'm a teacher. I like to teach. That's why I work at a community college, and that's why I love it. I think that's true of a lot of my colleagues. My academic research is important to me, I like to study and write and publish, but that's secondary. I describe myself as a teacher, not a "scholar."

    Sure, most of our students come in needing remediation. Sure, their skills and academic socialization are weak when they enter. But that's our job.

    Community college provides opportunity.

    We do vocational education, too, of course, and I wouldn't want to abandon that, either. I like the idea that, if I do my job right, a whole bunch of nurses, respiratory therapists and accountants can write a better paragraph, understand and appreciate a poem or story or novel, and see that literature is important and relevant in their lives, not just for school.

    I don't know about "recasting." Maybe we're doing it, maybe we're not, but I think the NY Times (and I felt this when I read the article over my morning coffee) may be just discovering something that's been going on for a long time.
  7. ethics

    ethics Pomp-Dumpster Staff Member

    Heck, after reading that post, Joseft, I want to attend already. :)
  8. Ravenink

    Ravenink Veteran Member

    So far as I can tell the qualities of community colleges vary greatly. I'm not in the mood to go into details, but I am attending Georgia Perimeter College now, and I must say it is the poorest excuse for an institution of higher-learning I have ever encountered. Not only is my school filled with morons and underachievers, but the professors are almost without exclusion second rate. Campus facilities and staff are dreadful, and the only possible advantage to this college is that it is so cheap that even the crackwhores in my english class can afford it.
  9. joseftu

    joseftu ORIGINAL Pomp-Dumpster

    Sorry, ethics, my classes for the Spring are already full! But there's always Fall! ;)
    (I don't think you need English 101 or 201, but you might enjoy English 337-Science Fiction!)
  10. Sierra Mike

    Sierra Mike The Dude Abides Staff Member

    LOL...sign me up! :)

  11. Techie2000

    Techie2000 The crowd would sing:

    I'll sign up for that one!
  12. joseftu

    joseftu ORIGINAL Pomp-Dumpster

    Actually, I was going to post an invitation (it's a Distance Learning course...perfect for you folks!) but the course filled up too fast.
    If you're serious, PM me, I'd love to have any of you take it in the Fall. It's a great course.
  13. Jedi Writer

    Jedi Writer Guest

    The community college system in California surely must be the best educational bargain in the world.

    They are everywhere and you can attend any of them regardless of either your location or that of the college. Their staff is in my opinion in most undergraduate courses superior to the four year Universities. Tuition is dirt-cheap and the curriculum is usually quite comprehensive and broad with all units transferable to all of the University of California campuses and also to the California State Universities. Most of the private colleges such as USC have the same policy.

    Besides their excellence they are also your ticket into any University regardless of how you did academically in high school. Say you got a 2.5 GPA in high school. Well, no way you are going to get into UCLA. But go to a community college for two years, get 60 semester hours with a GPA of 2.5 and usually it is just a formality to transfer to any college of your choice.

    Many things socially suck about California, but their college education system isnt one of them. It is the model by contemporary standards.

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