Destigmatizing community college

Erica Garbutt, Features Editor

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Life is an endless rush to get into the perfect four-year college. Or so it sometimes seems as a student. Did you know that over 30% of LBHS students are planning to attend community college? Some of them are even joining the military, entering a trade school or taking a gap year.

Students at LBHS are constantly whisked off to presentations about the importance of completing college applications on time. Students spend their days filling out financial aid applications, cramming their schedules with AP classes and fervently studying in the hopes of getting into the perfect college. How would our school culture change if students knew of more options? Would students act kinder to themselves? Would students feel more empowered to make decisions that are right for them, rather than doing something they think they should do?

I sure think so. I understand that our school wants the best for us. I feel so grateful to be surrounded by people who care so deeply about my future success. But there is a difference between helping people shine and creating unrealistic expectations. If students feel that only one option is presented as a road to a fulfilling life, then students might never see the path that’s actually right for them.

“I think people have traditional views of college, and those traditional views are difficult to adapt and change to a changing educational environment,” said College and Career Specialist Ann Bergen.

As crazy as it sounds, not everyone is destined for a four-year school. Some people might wind up working blue-collar jobs. Some are already taking jobs that they may stay in for several years. Some might want to go to art school. Some might want to travel the world. All these and more are perfectly legitimate options. But we never get to see them because the school seldom shows us all we can be.

My suggestion? This school should spend more time showing students what other options lie ahead. It’s entirely possible to get a satisfactory job without attending college, but lots of students are afraid to take that risk.

Isn’t it better to have a variety of future options so people can choose what’s right for them? We are young adults and are expected to make our own choices. But we can’t do that if we don’t actually know we have more than one option. Choice makes for life experience, and schools should try to make sure that students who might not know otherwise what’s available. The matriculation test was a good start.

“Our English teachers were a huge support in making this happen,” said Scholarship and Financial Aid Specialist Lynn Gregory.

Yes, it makes our school look good if a bunch of students go off to prestigious four-year universities. Yes, some students might genuinely be ready for four-years. But there will always be square pegs in round holes. Those square pegs will think something’s wrong with them if they can’t or won’t follow the seemingly predetermined roadmap that they feel has been laid out for them. They’ll never know that their solution is to find a different hole to fit into, not reshaping themselves to fit a hole they were never meant to pass through. If teachers really want to make a positive impact on the lives of their pupils, they need to show them all that they can be.

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Destigmatizing community college