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The Tongva Times

The Tongva Times

The Tongva Times

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The power and promise of community college education

HIGHER EDUCATION - Photograph of Pasadena City Colleges Main Campus. Credit to Pasadena City College.
HIGHER EDUCATION – Photograph of Pasadena City College’s Main Campus. Credit to Pasadena City College.

   Many students and families nationwide see community college and vocational schools as significantly worse than four-year colleges. Students and families hold these reservations mostly due to issues related to social life and stability, arguing that community colleges do not offer nearly the same amount of financial, social, and academic support to students as four-year colleges do, or an “authentic” university experience. As senior Andrew Garcia shared, “I do want to learn more about and attend community college; I just worry I won’t have enough support from my friends and family, that’s mostly what is making me reconsider.”

   The negative stigma that exists for community college is unwarranted. Community colleges allow students to save thousands of dollars, take time to work on themselves, and–contrary to what many who see community college as believe–do not hold students back from achieving their educational goals whatsoever. The College Board reported that for the 2020-2021 academic year, the average annual tuition and fees for a public two-year in-district college were significantly lower (around $3,770) compared to public four-year in-state colleges ($10,560) and private four-year institutions ($37,650).

   Yet the increasing price of university tuition has changed the equation, as families are increasingly seeing a community college education as just as viable as an education from a 4-year institution. According to a Tongva Times survey  conducted on November 14th, 2023, when asked, “After high school, what are your plans to further your education or training?”, a quarter of Gabrielino seniors responded they will be attending community college in the fall. Additionally, when asked, “What factors are most important to you when considering post-high school education?”, 90% of Gabrielino seniors responded with “Affordability”, followed by 45% responding with “Proximity to school/family.” 

   It’s no wonder that such a large number of Gabrielino students plan on making this decision; community college is an option that anyone should consider due to its myriad of positives. Senior Linh Chang agrees that community college is the better option, mostly due to affordability and the ability to develop herself further. 

   “I want to go to community college since I feel like it’s an opportunity to work on myself and save money,” Chang stated. “I don’t need to worry about living somewhere else, or being on my own; not only can I go somewhere affordable, but I also have two years to develop more as an adult,” She added. 

   Affordability, developing practical skills, and staying close to home/family are all extremely important factors of college success and factors which community colleges win over four-year colleges. As senior Arianna Eckhardt put it, “In the long term, community college is better. You get the same degree you would get from entering a four-year college immediately, while also saving thousands of dollars and being able to work on yourself more.”

   Community college not only allows you to stay close to home, save thousands of dollars, and develop practical skills, but also grants you more time to decide what career or field you would like to enter precisely.

   Senior Michelle Hong looks forward to participating in the Arts Program at Pasadena City College as she determines which career she’d like to go into.

   “I’m going to community college to sort out what my future career is, and have more time to figure out exactly what career I’d like to go into.” Hong stated. “I also really like the Art Programs offered at Pasadena City College, and felt it was what was best for me.” 

   Additionally, acceptance rates to competitive universities are far higher transferring out of community college, compared to out of high school. According to the University of California, the acceptance rate to UCLA is 24.09% for transfer students, while the acceptance rate for high school students is 10.8%. By attending community college, you do not diminish your chances of going on to achieve career success; in fact, you set yourself up for more success and increase it. 

   Regardless of pressures from family, friends, or other peers, students should take the route with their higher education which they see best fit. Community colleges should not be seen as lesser than four year universities, as they allow students to arrive at the same destination in their educational goals, all while being able to work on themselves, strengthen their academic profile, and save thousands of dollars. 

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About the Contributor
Mark Chammas
Mark Chammas, Editor in Chief
Mark Chammas is the Editor in Chief of the Tongva Times. This is his second year on the team. Outside of his journalistic pursuits, Mark enjoys fashion, reading celebrity memoirs, and listening to podcasts. He joined the newspaper out of his love for writing and his appreciation for the school paper's ability to create community. Mark aims to cover topics of personal interest and address school-related issues he believes need more attention.
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