Stigma sways students’ studies

By Marilyn Velazquez 
Staff Writer 

I always knew I wanted to go straight to a four-year university after high school. The thought of going to “Brookharvard” was social suicide for many of my peers. Apparently, they thought going to a community college meant you weren’t going far in life. And I, too, thought the same way.

However, I ended up at Brookhaven College. And despite my family’s encouragement to take full advantage of the low cost and the closeness of the campus to home, I still felt that negative stigma hanging over my head like a big red “L” marked on my forehead.

The negative stigmas surrounding community colleges are, for example, the easiness of classes, the legitimacy of a community college being a “real college,” or in my situation, just being the 13th grade.

Elizabeth Camacho, a former Dallas County Community College District student who now attends the University of North Texas, said her classes at Brookhaven were much more rigorous than those she is currently enrolled in at the four-year university.

“I came to the conclusion that community college is harder because they try to prepare you to transfer to the university level classes … therefore making your chance [of] success increase,” Camacho said.

Many students who go to big universities think the debt is worth it because they will get the most out of the “college experience.”

According to an article by The Huffington Post, a study conducted by the National Association for College Admission Counseling found that 66 percent of transfer students to four-year schools started out at community colleges.

There’s nothing wrong with getting the best bang for your buck by starting at community college, not to mention you can take prerequisite classes, such as English 1301, to minimize the burden of high tuition costs in the future.

According to goodcall.com, a poll conducted by The Hechinger Report in October 2015 found that community colleges are now seen as the best value in higher education, beating out public and private universities by substantial margins.

Heck, The Brookhaven Courier won 36 awards at the 2017 Texas Intercollegiate Press Association convention in downtown Dallas March 30-April 1, beating out many four-year schools, such as the University of North Texas. Many of the four-year schools’ budgets are higher and their equipment is better.

Another thing you won’t get at a four-year university is the one-on-one help from your professors and tutors at no extra cost.

At this point, why would you want to leave?

Certainly, if it was not for these past two years at Brookhaven, who knows what I’d be studying at a big school, thinking the major I’d chosen was my niche.

I’ve done a lot of self-reflection while attending this two-year school.

I look back at how undecided I was about my future. But, because of a small miscommunication in the Advising Center, I found my way to the school’s newspaper. Now, I can’t seem to find a way to mentally prepare myself to leave such a great school, amazing friends and helpful staff who took the time to get to know me.

Don’t let the social stigmas enforced by peers and society rule the path to your future career. There is no one right path to reach your goals.

Whether you go to community college first, or decide that going to a four-year university was not right for you and then enroll at community college, it’s OK.

An education is an education, no matter how you achieve it.

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