Do More with Less: An (Unintentional) Letter to Community College Students

At the beginning of the Philadelphia Association of Black Journalists award ceremony, Cheryl Thompson-Morton, program manager at the Lenfest Institute for Journalism, and speaker at the Awards advised the audience that PABJ has been successful at doing “more with less”. As a Community College student and PABJ Scholarship winner, this spoke to me when looking back at me and other student’s hard work, dedication, and overachieving personality. Throughout my three, going on four, years here at the college, I have met and worked with several headstrong characters who went on to become Ivy League scholars, run their own ride-sharing services, even to play for the Flyers, all while pursuing their Associate’s here at CCP. When I first started at the college, I saw it as the common man’s school, whose students were strictly screw ups, too daft to go to a four-year school, as many see community colleges as. While going here, I have met many steadfast students looking to make a much as they possibly can out of their time here at the college, rather than just trying to get out of the school as fast as they possibly can. Whether we were making friends or building resumes, being here has not been a handicap for us, but rather training wheels.

While community colleges are the quintessential schools for former and remedial students, it does not mean that they are the only ones enrolling. Lately, I have been seeing younger and younger students at community colleges, most with the credentials to go to a four-year school, and when asked why I’m often met with “I wanted to save money” and save they did. At most community college’s, students often do not have to worry about on-campus housing, dorms and fraternities/sororities, in spite of CCP trying to make the Hamilton fill in for that, and without the perils, distractions, and cost of a four-year college, one can be in and out in a jiffy. However, if the students are as dedicated to their future as all scholars should be, they do more with less.

On and off-campus, students give 110% effort to their time here at the college, but strangely, it has come off as a way to have more agency. Because of the stigma of going to community colleges, peers feel that they have to work twice as hard in order to achieve their goals and it is still a “maybe” if they will get into the schools they apply to. That’s why most students here do duel admissions, to get a definite, and positive, outcome to their transfer from a community college. It is not “doing more with less” if the goal is to get out in a heartbeat, even if students do not want to be there forever. The thing most community college critics do not realize is that the benefits of them are for people who have gotten a subpar education before college or were not able to complete it and they can be the end-all-be-all of one’s education if they choose to end at their Associate’s. At the end of the day, most jobs that you can put creativity into, such as journalism and public relations, are about who you know and to look for the right mentor or connection to get what you need to get out there is like being a kid in a candy store.

So, as Thompson-Morton says, “do more with less.” The only disadvantage of going to a community college is that your curricular opportunities are limited to just the gists, though with the right people, majors, classes, clubs, and off-campus experiences, the college’s less becomes more.


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