Category Archives: PFPS17

PFP: The Stigma of Community Colleges

I didn’t want to go. I really didn’t. All of my friends were moving all over California to attend “real colleges,” and I, because I was paying my own way, was staying at home, basically friendless, to attend a community college before transferring elsewhere. When people asked what I was doing after graduation and I answered with this plan, the conversation tapered off and the responses were patronizing and condescending. The school I went to seemed disappointed when its students chose to remain in town and attend AHC. What did I do to deserve this humiliation?

Now that I’m well past my last year of undergraduate studies, I think the better question to ask is “Why is there such a stigma regarding community college?” Maybe this is just my experience in the town in which I was raised. (I would greatly appreciate hearing other people’s experiences regarding how community colleges are viewed in their particular circles!) But based off of my own experience, I’m left wondering why adults and peers alike try to discourage young people from attending community college because let me tell you, I have hefty student loan debt just like most graduate students, but it would certainly be substantially worse had I not attended community college for the general education courses. It’s made to seem like it’s not “real.”  The work load at community colleges is very real, especially when many students, including myself, are working full-time or almost full-time. Some even have families. It’s real. I got where I am today thanks, in part, to the education that I received there and the professors with whom I worked.

I really enjoyed my experience at a community college. I enjoyed the professors that I interacted with and the people I was able to meet. I enjoyed the classes that I took, particularly the small sizes within the higher level English courses. And I enjoyed saving money. I don’t regret my decision at all. It was refreshing to hear Dean DePauw praise community colleges, praise that I didn’t expect to hear coming from someone so prominent at Virginia Tech. I think this reinforces my belief that the student should be the primary concern of the university, not the prestige it gains by having high enrollment or the money it obtains by having these students. This also reinforces my belief that Virginia Tech does care about its students. For many people, community college is the only viable means to begin the journey in higher education. I think we as graduate students and potential future professoriate should work to change the stigma associated with community colleges.

What have your experiences with community college been? Similar to mine? Different from mine?

 

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Blog Post 1: Mission Statements

For this assignment, I chose to focus on the two higher education institutions that I attended as an undergraduate. I attended a community college for a few years before transferring to a private institution.

  • The following mission statement is from Allan Hancock College, a community college in Santa Maria, CA:

“Allan Hancock College provides quality educational opportunities that enhance student learning and the creative, intellectual, cultural, and economic vitality of our diverse community.” (AHC)

In addition to the mission statement, Allan Hancock’s “Mission and Values” page also contains a vision statement, Allan Hancock Shared Values statement, a nondiscrimination statement, and a strategic plan.

  • The following mission statement is from Simpson University, a four-year Christian university in Redding, CA:

“Simpson University is a Christ-centered learning community committed to developing each student in mind, faith and character for a lifetime of meaningful work and service in a constantly changing world.” (SU)

Like Allan Hancock College, Simpson University “Mission, Vision, and Values” page also has separate identity, vision, and core values statements.

Since I attended both of these institutions, I have an idea of how they worked and how their mission statements reflect their unique identities. In thinking about Hancock’s mission statement, I’m reminded of its purpose as a community college and of its role in the community, which I believe are indicated by the words “educational opportunities.” This institution worked largely in two major ways (there I’m sure there are many others): 1) It served to prepare students for transferring to the Cal State system or the UC system. A large majority went to either of those systems, so their major programs revolved around the qualifications these schools required of their incoming transfer students. The college also had terminal programs, like nursing, dental assistant, or welding. Hancock had a very popular and prestigious nursing program for the area. So the opportunities for the students varied. Where they ended up varied. But Hancock provided the education they needed to get to where they wanted to be. Also, Santa Maria is an ethnically diverse city, and Hancock reflected this within its statement.

Simpson University’s mission statement is noticeably quite different from the statement of Allan Hancock College because of its obviously Christian background.The school is committed to the both educational and spiritual development of its students.  It’s important to note that Simpson University is partnered with the Christian-Missionary Alliance denomination, and because of this, the phrase “lifetime of meaningful work and service in a constantly changing world” is important. Simpson is big on community service and world service, and this is reflected in its mission statement.

These two institutions of higher education are very different from each other, and their mission statements indicate how they see themselves in the community they reside in and what they believe their responsibility is to the students that come from those communities and elsewhere.

Works Cited:

“Mission and Values.”  Allan Hancock College, n.d.,  linkaccessed 27 January 2017.

“Mission, Vision, and Values.” Simpson University, n.d., link, accessed 27 January 2017.

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