By Andrew Edwards
Community colleges can often be seen as somehow inferior to four-year universities, but I could never understand this comparison. Is it really fair to compare an institution that only offers two-year programs with one that issues bachelor’s degrees?
In the arena where the two do compete -covering prerequisites- for majors programs, it seems clear to me what the more practical choice is. As once stated by former Whatcom President Harold Heiner, for what each offers, one costs half as much, has classes taught by teachers with master’s degrees and Ph.D’s instead of teacher’s assistants, and vastly smaller class sizes.
I have nothing against universities. In fact my goal is to transfer to one, but I do think that many students who aspire to earn a four-year degree do themselves a disservice by eliminating community colleges as an option for the first two years of their higher education.
Besides paying more for the same amount of credits as a community college, and potentially receiving lower quality instruction, young people who go straight to universities often miss out on being exposed to perspectives that are much different than their own. Here at Whatcom at least, I think a major benefit is having a student population that represents diverse age groups, nationalities and financial backgrounds.
From its very beginning Whatcom has sought to make higher education accessible to as many people as possible, and in a time of rapidly rising tuition costs and student debt, this undertaking is more timely than ever.
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