Community College

Community College Through the years, community colleges have always had a negative stigma attached to its name. Even today, this negative stigma is still present. However, the misconception of an undergraduate curriculum from a junior college is inferior to an undergraduate curriculum from a university is becoming widely accepted. The popular notion that people foresee in a community college is that it is mainly a place for those people who did not possess the knowledge to attend a four-year university. This, however, is a big assumption towards some of the students that attend community colleges because many people enter into a community college for many different reasons.

One reason, for example, people attend a community college first is the financial disadvantage many people have; therefore, it seems that going to a community college is their only choice. The price for a general education in a community college is significantly lower than that of a general education in a university. Because of the lower costs, the possibility to receive a quality education or trade comes into reach for everyone who is financially challenged or hasn’t made a career choice. Despite the negative misconceptions of junior colleges, they bridge the gap between high schools and universities and create opportunities for more of the United States population to achieve higher education. Understanding the need to establish a college, of which, provides an opportunity for the United States population to achieve a higher level of education, William Rainey Harper, the first president at the University of Chicago, created the first junior college in the year of 1892. He did this by dividing the university into two different parts; one was called the upper division and the other called the lower division.

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The upper divisions were known as the “Senior Colleges” while the lower divisions as the “Academic Colleges” (Witt et al. 14). Harper wanted these two separate colleges to focus on the different levels of training; primarily, the “Senior Colleges” was to focus more on the advanced courses while the “Academic Colleges” focused more on the less advanced courses. Harper also envisioned that a two-year school would soon stand on its own; however, it would still be affiliated with the university. Junior colleges, also mostly known and referred today as a community college, were first thought about because educators began to realize that students needed more educational opportunities after high school.

The idea of these smaller colleges came about because educators saw that a lot of students were not able to go away to a four-year college after high school and they also saw that extending high schools for two more years could never happen (Brick 8). Although Harper was highly associated with these ideas in the creation of a two-year institution, he was not the only one involved with them. Alexis F. Lange, Dean of the School of Education at the University of California, also wanted to encourage students to further their education. Lange realized that there were a lot of students that did not need, nor want, to go on to a four-year college and he felt that community colleges should focus more on providing vocational preparation.

Thus, he urged college administrators to prevent the “wrong persons” from attempting to fulfill transfer requirements when these courses would only hurt them instead of help them. Lange proposed that community colleges should prepare students to be active and effective in community life. As more people became aware of the many benefits that a community college would offer a student, the creation of such an idea was inevitable to stop. The first actual junior college was Lewis Institute in Chicago and was established in 1896. Since then, hundreds of junior colleges have been established throughout the United States, with most of them being affiliated with a major university. This also made it easier for students to transfer to upper levels of education. To date, there are 106 junior colleges in the state of California, of which, San Diego encompasses a good portion of them (Mesa 1).

These include City, Mesa, and Miramar community college. As of yet, Mesa community college is one of the most prestigious of these colleges. The notion of establishing a San Diego community college was in 1914 when the Board of Education authorized a decision to bring the many benefits of a community college into San Diego. In 1916, the first real community college classes were held in the classrooms of San Diego High School, but later moved into its own facility. Having only 4 faculty members and 35 students, classes were relatively small with little benefits given to the students. This, of which, is understandable because of the fact that the class size was so small.

In 1939, San Diego Community College provided college classes in the evening; as a result, this would allow adults who are unable to attend classes in the day to attend classes in the evening. Allowing classes in the evening greatly increased the number of adults returning to college to further their education. It also greatly diversified the environmental factors in the community college. In 1964, San Diego Mesa Community College was opened to students and provided a 1,800 capacity limit at that time. Five years later, San Diego Miramar Community College was opened.

Although Miramar College only emphasized vocational education, it later on changed their curricula to provide areas in general education. With these three community colleges greatly emphasizing curricula in general education, the goal intended for a community college to possess was fulfilled. In 1972, San Diego community colleges became its own district when the voters decided that these community colleges would beneficially provide better services to the students if it were to become its own district. Being separated from the San Diego Unified School District has changed the way the curriculum was run and also provided new services and programs to their students. As seen through the years, community colleges have greatly increased in size, the average number of attending students go up to the thousands in size each year, providing better benefits in higher levels of education for those who want it.

Along with the benefits of attending a junior college, there are some negative aspects associated with it as well. The most striking negative aspect is the notion that junior college is inferior to four-year universities. Unfortunately, this opinion is held by many in our society ranging from journalists to students who attend junior colleges. By many, junior colleges are viewed as “high school with ashtrays” or “.. places you went if you couldnt get in anywhere else, couldnt afford anywhere else or didnt know better” (Featherstone 87). Yet for some, a junior college is a last resort for students who were unable to attend a university, but this does not represent every student at a junior college.

This assumption causes apprehension and embarrassment to the students who attend junior colleges for reasons other than the “last resort”. Junior colleges allow anyone to attend which gives everyone a chance to further their education. Since anyone can attend, another assumption arises. It is thought that junior college students are lazy …