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Veterans Should Attend A Community College and Here's Why

Oct 28, 2018 by Colby Carson with Veterans Off-Grid in Education
As a community college student, I frequently get an underwhelming “oh ok…cool” after answering where I attend school. Yes, community colleges tend to be frowned upon, but I’m convinced veterans, and non-veterans alike, should attend a community college before pursuing higher education. Here’s why…


COMMUNITY COLLEGES OFFER EQUAL QUALITY EDUCATION AS MAJOR UNIVERSITIES

There are several community colleges nationwide outperforming research-intensive universities regarding class discussion, prompt performance feedback, student effort, higher faculty expectations and student-faculty interaction, both inside and outside the classroom. Students attending community colleges often participate in classroom discussion and experience one-on-one interaction with professors at a much higher rate than university students’ experience. Community colleges usually offer courses with equal academic rigor and difficulty as four-year universities. Faculty members focus on classroom instruction and methods focusing on teaching instead of research to facilitate a better learning environment.

Many researchers and educators are convinced the quality of education at community colleges surpass those of many four-year institutions. Majority of community colleges nationwide require their professors to have a Master’s or Doctoral Degree in the subject that they teach. The most prominent advantage against four-year universities is that community college professors are usually successful career professionals that provide students insights and knowledge that is directly applicable to the local job market. Despite the substantial needs of their student populations, community colleges are given comparatively fewer resources. In 2011, public two-year institutions spent about $8,100 per student; in contrast, institutions in the public master's sector spent just over $12,000. Thus, the colleges whose students have the greatest needs have the fewest resources to address those needs. These figures imply community colleges can do more with less.


COMMUNITY COLLEGES TEND TO FOCUS TOO STRONGLY ON DEVELOPMENTAL EDUCATION

Too many students are arriving on campus unprepared and placed into developmental or remedial courses where they fail to progress, which results with never completing a credential, graduate, or transfer to a four-year institution. All community colleges assess their students' academic skills upon entry: many are placed in developmental education courses. Unfortunately, developmental education is not often able to prepare students to succeed in college-level classes. Community colleges help pave the wave for post-secondary education, now enrolling 40% of all college students. At most only one-third earn a certificate or degree within five years. Nearly 60% arrive academically unprepared and enroll in at least one developmental reading, writing, or math course. Some face as many as four classes of remedial math or English before even attempting a college-level course. Community college enrollment has increased; still, degree completion rates remain low because students do not complete the developmental education sequence.


COMMUNITY COLLEGES CARE ABOUT THEIR VETERAN STUDENTS

As a veteran student attending a Community College, I am not sure I’d be able to enroll in school using my Post 9-11 G.I. Bill with ease. The application is more complicated with military credits and training alongside setting up paperwork for the bill to go to Veteran Affairs. Traditional students sign up for their classes each semester online whereas veterans must enroll in the course, prove enrollment with the VA, submit paperwork that the class is a requirement for the degree, and demonstrate a maintained GPA standard. Every teacher has asked about my military experience and how it may related to the curriculum; the faculty inquires whether veteran services are helpful or not. This attention indicates the college has interest on a personal level.

What’s more, Veteran Services offer numerous benefits to students such as: free lunches on occasion, councilors in addition to the school counselors, tutors from the math and writing centers come and sit in the veterans lounge to help, and various activities that we can participate in without enrolling in other school clubs. They help with personal matters such as disability claims with the VA, assistance with career development, and assisting veterans to find a doctor or a medical facility. Everything they offer is either through the college itself, or Veteran Affairs. My community college, alongside veteran services, has helped me plan coursework around other commitments. Most students, including myself, attend classes and study while working; caring for dependents; and struggling to balance personal, academic, and financial challenges. Veteran services, other clubs and resources, and community colleges help their students succeed in any way they can.