The stigma around community college needs to be erased

NPHS offers many opportunities through the International Baccalaureate program, numerous Advanced Placement classes and a wide range of clubs and extracurriculars. It comes as no surprise that many of our students go on to attend some of the highest ranking colleges in the nation. However, this high-achieving environment creates a pressure to follow in the footsteps of our upperclassmen.

After years of seeing the absolute–and of course, well-deserved–sense of pride that is associated with going to an elite school, it is only to be expected that many students would perceive this as the ultimate standard. Unfortunately, this expectation also leads to a culture that tends to look down on community college.

Many students adopt an elitist mindset that community college is a last resort option for those who were unable to get accepted into a four-year university. This stigma needs to be eliminated.

With tuition prices constantly increasing, many families struggle to make ends meet when the time comes to send their child to college. Students are often forced to bear the burdens of student debt long after they graduate, and this situation is only exacerbated by the elitist pressure to attend a prestigious school. Community college allows students to complete quality general education classes without the enormous price tag, especially if they choose to live at home.

Additionally, choosing a major can be extremely intimidating for high school students, and community college is an effective option for those who are still unsure. It gives students more time and opportunity to explore their interests without the pressures of tuition or an intimidating environment. As much as we love to romanticize university life, the shift from high school to college can feel extremely daunting, and there is no shame in wanting an easier transition.

Moreover, simply choosing to go to community college after high school does not mean that you’ll never attend a larger campus. Many community colleges, including Moorpark, offer a Transfer Admission Guarantee (TAG) program, where students are able to transfer to any one of the participating universities (which include high-ranking schools like UC Irvine and UC Davis) after two years, as long as they maintain the required grade point average for that school.
Having already completed two years of community college also gives students a much higher chance of getting into the school of their dreams regardless if it participates in TAG, as universities can clearly see how the student fares in a college setting.

As college admissions are more competitive than ever, I’ve seen many of my peers simply resolve to work harder, sacrificing their mental health and social life in the process. However, resolving to go to community college is by no means an indication of lack of intelligence or ambition. We need to recognize that community college is a clever strategy for high schoolers in several different situations, and stop perpetuating the idea that it is simply for the underperforming.