The following is an editorial view relating to the benefits of community colleges.
By: Laurie Moon
As the current economic recession still affects most of America’s families, many high school students are choosing community colleges to begin their collegiate careers.
Community colleges offer students competitive, educational classes at an affordable price. They are often considered the ‘stepping stones’ for transferring to four-year institutions, and have become affordable building blocks of solid educations.
These days though, you can’t land a decent, well-paying job without a bachelor’s degree. You need it just to “get by” in the world.
I was no exception. I was a working, single mother of three kids. In the late summer of 2006, I realized I’d no longer be able to support my kids on my salary and decided to return to school.
After having an exceptional experience at NSCC earlier in life, I chose to work- albeit slowly- on my associate’s degree in liberal arts. I knew I’d need general education courses if I ever decided to pursue a bachelor’s degree.
In April, 2008 –one month from graduation and with two more years of education under my belt–I felt confident about my place in the world and had landed a better paying job in the process. Wahoo for me, right? Trying to keep my excitement in check, I visited the advising and registration offices to make sure I was set for a May graduation.
That’s when the representative from Salem State caught me. She flooded me with congratulatory remarks and praise, and even tossed me a colorful SSC brochure.
And there it was, smack dab at eye’s view-the communications major. My heart skipped a little. I always wanted to pursue a bachelor’s degree in communications–before I became a mom that is.
“Wow,” I thought. Two more years of school seems entirely overwhelming. Sleepless nights, travel, and time off work- you know the drill.
But, to my dismay and conflicting excitement, she said, “We make it easy to transfer.” Well, that’s great and all, but HOW easy?
REALLY EASY! NSCC has contracts with several state institutions, including Salem State, which guarantees admission into most four-year state schools.
There are some requirements, though. A candidate must have a 2.5 GPA, copies of their current transcript, and a whole lot of ambition. Ok, so I added ambition-still important though!
So there I was, copy of transcript in-hand, an impressive GPA and a smiling college rep eagerly anticipating my response to her admission offer. How could I say no?
I shook her hand, she welcomed me to Salem State, and off I went–excited I’d finally complete my bachelor’s degree.
And Salem State kept their word. All but six of my credits were transferred into my program. All I had to do was complete my communications courses, choose a minor and take a refresher course in math.
The college also made it easy to get my financial aid forms completed; directed me to my program chairperson, and helped acquaint me with the campus. As an added bonus, the college took 33% off my tuition costs for having a GPA over 3.0, which, in people language, is a ‘B’ average.
Even the class sizes are similar to NSCC. Community colleges are known for small class sizes and personalized instruction. Salem State is the same way. My transition from community life to four-year life was extremely smooth and nearly stress-free.
Don’t get me wrong, every institution has its requirements regarding transfer credits, admissions policies and the like. But would I have received the same treatment from bigger, less-personalized schools? Who knows, but I’m betting on no. At Salem State, you are a person, not just another paying number.
Yes, Salem State really does make transferring easy. I was blessed with super instructors who have made my experience here a positive one, and have prepared me for the post-undergrad world.
So now, 18 months later and with honors, I will depart Salem State with fond memories and new friends; but most importantly, the bachelor’s degree I need, and always wanted.