Two-years first

Community college not comparable to stigma

Elizabeth Atchison, Reporter

For many high school students, college is a serious subject, and choosing between a two-year community college and a four-year college is a pressing matter.

There seems to be a stigma behind community college: one that negatively and falsely represents community college and those who attend it. The students who attend community college are often seen as “lazy” or “bad in school”, when in most cases, it is quite the opposite.

There are many reasons people choose community college over a four-year institution, tuition being one of the biggest factors.

“The cost of attendance at the University of Arkansas is around $20,000 a year,” Lesli Zeagler, head of the College and Career office explained. “If you live at home, you knock off about $10,00, which leaves $10,000 a year. To run a campus with 28,000 students, like Arkansas, is expensive, so you have a lot of fees attached to your tuition. At NWACC, you don’t have that.”

Saving money on tuition means more money for bills, amusement and less money owed later for student debt.

Not only can living off campus save money, but it also gives the experience needed for adulthood.

Community college classes are just as rigorous and educational as four-year colleges, and these colleges give the same classes needed to receive a certain degree as their counterpart.

“Community colleges can give you the basic, core classes needed for almost every undergraduate degree. All of the classes at NWACC transfer to the U of A,” Curt Champion, school counselor, said.

“I was glad I went to a two-year college, first, to get all of the prerequisites out of the way,” Sara Kincaid, volleyball coach, agreed.

The National Association for College Administration Counseling found that “66 percent of transfer students come from community colleges”.

Another plus side of attending community college is the small classes.

“You could spend more time with the professors… you could ask them questions,” Kincaid said. “It was easier to get in contact and meet with them.”

The smaller classes are also great for students with high anxiety, who are scared to ask questions in class, or be surrounded by up to 400 people, at a four-year university.

However, despite all the plus sides of community colleges, very few high school students will actually attend them after graduation.

“About 14 percent of last year’s graduating class went to NWACC,” Zeagler said.

All these opportunities that community college has to offer have gone unused, simply because of the negative stigma surrounding it.

“I think the stigma behind community colleges is a Fayetteville thing, because we have the University at our back door,” Champion explained.

Students should not be intimidated by the looming university or peer pressure to attend a more expensive, larger college than the smaller, more affordable college that rests in Bentonville.

“There’s no one way college should be,” Zeagler said. “It’s whatever works best for you.”

If students would give community colleges a chance, they might find that that school is the best choice for them.

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