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Five Myths about Community Colleges

Jennifer Leclaire

September 04, 2008

Five Myths about Community Colleges
Like most misconceptions, community college myths are based on elements of truth. But like most misconceptions, these myths lead to mistaken beliefs that could warp your ability to choose the right post-high school educational path. “There are many wrong assumptions about community colleges, but the top students at community colleges are among our country’s greatest assets,” says Joshua Wyner, vice president of programs with the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation, an organization that focuses on community college student development. Indeed, Walt Disney went to a community college. So did renowned corporate executive H. Ross Perot, transplant surgeon Daniel Hayes and NASA astronaut Eileen Collins. Nobel and Pulitzer Prize winners and several governors also graduated from junior colleges. In the spring of 2006, William D. Green, CEO of Accenture, wrote a column in Newsweek about how his time at Dean College, a two-year college near Boston, helped shape his career.

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Nationally, 40 percent of all traditional-age college students start out at community college, according to the U.S. Department of Education. So let’s bust five of the most common myths about community colleges and let the truth speak for itself. Myth 1: Students only attend community college because they can’t get in to a four-year university. Fact: Statistics deny this assumption. It may be true that, on average, community college students have lower SAT and ACT scores than university students, but many students attend community college for convenience, family, job or financial considerations.

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“Community college makes sense, purely for economic reasons. We expect more students to use community colleges in the future because of the sheer cost of a university education,” Wyner explains. Community college students save on tuition and also on boarding because they can live at home during the first two years of school. Myth 2: A degree from a community college is not as good as a university degree.

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Fact: A community college degree can take you straight into the workforce or to an elite four-year university. Community colleges educate 62 percent of allied health professionals and over 80 percent of law enforcement officers and firefighters, according to the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC).

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