Hamilton students battle the community college stigma

California has one of the best community college systems in the world. The California CC system is one of the largest systems of higher education in the nation, yet many people still look past the benefits of attending them. 

Rumors circulate about those who choose to attend community college: “People who often go are broke or looking for a way out,” senior Khizar Khan described the common stigmas associated with attending community college. 

In reality, it is the cost that makes community college such a great choice for people of every economic status. The money spent on college can be invested elsewhere. Community college is much more affordable than a four-year while often guaranteeing similar education. California’s student aid program, coupled with federal and institutional grants, ensures the majority of students do not pay tuition at all, according to the Public Policy Institute of California.

Additionally, the transfer rate from community colleges to four-year universities is phenomenal, with an increased chance of admission.  UC campuses give first priority to eligible community college transfer students over all others, including transfers from a CSU. “The people that are working there go out of their way to make sure that students succeed: They help with textbooks, transportation, anything you can think of,” said College Counselor Ms. Monroy. To make matters better, UC and CSU do not require admissions tests from transfer students.

According to a Forbes article, transfer students complete degrees at a higher rate and are more likely to graduate college than those enrolled in a four-year university from the start. However, the stigma continues to cause many students globally to shy away from the option.

Hamilton students, however, are looking past this stigma in order to make the best choice for their education. Khizar Khan, a senior attending Santa Monica College (SMC), decided it was a good fit. “It’s a way cheaper route to take,” he explained. 

Originally, he wanted to go to UCLA or LMU, but discovering he didn’t have the credentials to attend spoiled those plans. In spite of that, his chances of attending aren’t ruined. “I do plan to transfer to either a private or public [university] depending on the circumstances.” While he never feels judged for his decision, he agrees it’s stigmatized, claiming, “People often think it’s a poor man/woman’s way to higher education.” 

Ms. Monroy stated she is totally supportive of this decision for any student. “Anybody who chose community college – I’m really excited for them,” said Ms. Monroy. “It is a really good deal. I mean they’re gonna go to college for two years free.”

SAS Senior Diego Chavez Cortez agrees that there is often a negative association with attending community college. “People look at it as a “dumb” decision, but financially it does help and it’s smarter,” he said. When Diego attends SMC, he will start working and save enough money to transfer to a Cal State or UC. 

Ms. Monroy encourages other students to consider this option. “I kind of think of it as a fresh start,” she said. “I think it’s okay to start all over or whatever it is you wanna do, but more than anything, I love community college.” She herself even stated she would’ve chosen community college if the option had been presented to her as a high schooler. 

Overall, according to Ms. Monroy and general evidence surrounding the success rate of community college alumni, community college is nothing to be ashamed of.  “Community college is a really fantastic option no matter why you chose it.”