Opinion

Community College: “Start here, go anywhere”?

By Delaney Van Wey and Dalton Lord

Everyone who watches television should know Erie Community College’s commercial jingle, “Start here, go anywhere,” and can probably sing it on the correct notes. Well, it’s true! Community college, although often looked down upon, can be the right decision for many seniors who are looking to get the most bang for their buck.

Sometimes, students who go to community college can be negatively stereotyped, when in reality they are often making well-informed decisions. There are multiple reasons why a two-year school can be right for them.

Everyone knows that community college can save people a significant amount of money, but just how much? For the 2013-14 school year, the “sticker price” Jamestown Community College students paid was about $17,470 if they lived on campus and $11,240 if they commuted, which includes books, fees, and other expenses. Compare this to Buffalo State’s prices, which range from $12, 543 for commuters to $20,310 for dormers, and Niagara University’s, which were $32,375 for those who traveled and $41, 875 for campus residents.

This difference in price can be significant, especially over a four-year period. Many students feel that the debt accrued at a four-year college or university outweighs the benefits, especially in the first two years. As senior, Hannah Grimm said, “If you don’t have enough money, you can go to community college and work towards a four-year school while getting your liberal arts courses out of the way.”

Another reason that community college can be a good decision is the fact that there are high-paying, rapidly-growing jobs that only require associate’s degrees. In her article, “The 10 Best-Paying Jobs For Community College Grads,” Forbes’ Jenna Goudreau broke down the fastest-growing and the highest-paying jobs that are available for those with an associate’s degree.

As for the largest median salaries, air traffic controllers came in first, earning about $108,040, although, as Goudreau said, “it’s also stressful and not expected to be a high-growth job.” Other high-paying jobs include construction managers, with a median salary of $83,860, and radiation therapists, coming in at $74,980.

However, these professions, while paying good money, aren’t necessarily the most available. The fastest-growing jobs (requiring an associate’s degree) will most likely have many more openings than the above careers. Many of these are in the health field, including RNs with 26% job growth, medical sonographers (who administer ultrasounds) with 44%, and dental hygienists with 38%. Also, these careers all earn decent median salaries, ranging from about $64,000 to around $68,000.

There are other, non-financial benefits to community college, too. Senior Skylar Emery explained that she likes community college because it allows people to “test the waters” and explore what they want to commit to. She also pointed out that it’s really easy to commute to community college, so she can stay close to home for a while longer.

Of course, if students want to continue their education they can always transfer to a four-year college. In the end, the most important thing to remember is that nothing is set in stone. It’s your investment, and therefore your choice.

While community college may seem like a good option for some, there are several seniors at Gowanda who are choosing not to go to a community college for certain reasons.

One of the seniors who doesn’t want to go to a community college is Danielle Lesefske. Lesefske said that many students from high school will attend a community college and that she wants a change of scenery from Gowanda. She also said that there are more opportunities at a four-year college.

“I have always dreamed of going to Fredonia and I’m going to play soccer there,” said Lesefske.

Another senior who thinks a community college isn’t the best choice for the future is Trent Martin. Like Lesefske, Martin also said that there are more opportunities at a regular four-year college.

“With more opportunities at a regular college, community college should be a last resort,” said Martin.

Brianna Chupa is also a senior who believes attending a community college is not a good option for a high school graduate’s future. Chupa, who earned a scholarship to Niagara, said she thinks it would be meaningless for her to go to community college.

“Knowing that I have this scholarship, I don’t want to have to transfer from a community college,” said Chupa.

Another one of the seniors who think there are better options for a high school graduate’s future is Kelsey Herniman. Instead of making the transfer to a community college, Herniman said she is interested in planting roots.

“I understand why people go to community college, but I want to plant roots, not transfer,” said Herniman.

Jessica Sowa is another senior who plans to attend a four-year school. Before graduation, Sowa said she wanted to find a school she really desires.

“Aside from a ‘reach’ school, I really wanted to go to a school with a well-known biology program,” said Sowa.

Besides many of the seniors, guidance counselor, Mrs. Mattimore, has also expressed that there are many cons of attending a community college. Mrs. Mattimore said that two of the cons to community college are that they offer a limited amount of classes and have smaller programs.

Mrs. Mattimore also said that some community colleges do not offer dorm service. “It’s a drawback for students who are attending a college with no dorm service, because they have to drive all the way from home in the morning and back after their classes are over,” said Mrs. Mattimore.

Even with those drawbacks, Mrs. Mattimore said she still overwhelmingly supports the community college option.

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