Community college: better than most people think

Community college: better than most people think

Sean White, Staff Writer

You stand with your friends, discussing your plans for after high school. One exclaims “I’m going to Yale!” A few others have committed to UMD. Then another speaks up: “Oh, I’m just going to Montgomery College.” A hush falls over the group, as if they just uttered a horrid curse.

College is a common topic of conversation for students, especially those involved in the application process. Student discourse around college revolves heavily around anticipating or boasting about admittance to large, out-of-state schools, and the financial aid awarded to each student. A student’s choice to attend Montgomery College, or MC, is often regarded with disappointment and even pity. For most students, MC isn’t even seen as a valid option. As senior Ben Mash said, “I haven’t really considered it. I’m planning on getting an engineering degree, so UMD seems like a stronger option that is still affordable.”

But why is MC looked down upon? As a community college, it is seen as less prestigious than a state or private college because of the low bar for entry. In an affluent area where so many families include alumni of various esteemed schools, students are taught that the key to future wealth and success is a four-year school with a reputation to match. Students pursuing highly academic careers in STEM or computer science assume that their future career requires an expensive education. As an anonymous MC student said, “Wootton is in a very privileged area, and [MC] is kind of, for whatever reason, looked down upon.”

Montgomery College has a plethora of benefits to offer graduating students. First and foremost is affordability. Although its low tuition cost is seen as an indicator of a lack of quality, that assumption is far from the truth. In fact, MC is the only community college in the nation that Harvard takes transfers from. The ability to receive a quality higher education without the need to take out student loans cannot be underestimated, and could easily fiscally outweigh the prestige earned by pouring exorbitant fees into a school with a reputation. MC strives to create an accessible environment, with a cheaply priced bookstore and public transportation to campus.

MC also grants students an opportunity to enter the real world immediately after high school. A majority of MC students have part-time jobs alongside school, and start building professional experience right away. A student attending a four-year-school not only is sinking tens of thousands of dollars into tuition, but there’s much less of a guarantee to get a stable job; additionally, any earning from an on-campus job will probably be devoured by tuition costs.

MC is a great stepping stone for between high school and a more expensive college, as transfering can cut a student’s tuition costs nearly in half over their four years of higher education. As counselor Robert Kurtz said, “MC can be whatever it needs to be for each student … they are just unaware of all the wonderful things that MC has to offer.”