Community colleges: Lacking the college experience?

We’ve seen how the image of two-year colleges — whether it’s correct or distorted — causes some Minnesotans to choose four-year colleges instead.

Judging from my survey, some of the reason my be tied into how people view the “college experience.”

Students looking at four-year institutions may want the friendships formed in dorm life, a large alumni network, or may just want to study in a 100-year-old ivy-covered building. In contrast, community college students, some responses suggested, might feel more comfortable — or just not mind — staying at home.

Four-year student Blaine Ponto wrote in:

I feel like a four-year college, for most students, would provide a better experience, but it’s not for everyone. (Community colleges are best for) people who are working (or) want to be at home a lot …..
Century College admissions representative Andy Gammons said:
The only reason I wouldn’t encourage someone to consider a two-year college is if they were interested in a residential experience. Especially at a private institution, these experiences are very beneficial. At state four-year institutions though, the residential experience can often take away, not add to, the learning.
One University of Minnesota – Twin Cities student said:
There’s also a view that community/tech colleges don’t have as connected of a student network or support system, and you dont meet as many people as you would in a traditional school setting.
Indeed, North Central University teacher Amy Anderson said:
In my opinion, the larger loss is the experience of being with the same group of friends and the same professors for an entire four years. Much of the value of a four-year school is in the relationships and mentoring that occurs.
Nathan Flanders, a counselor at St. Paul’s Central High School, said:
Sometimes a two-year school is a great next step to get acclimated to life away from home.
Yet one parent said the college experience is possible at some two-year colleges:
We had to do our own research to find two-year colleges that offer a full college experience (dorms, arts, sports, community). I ended up putting together a guide for other parents because no one seemed to know about the residential two-year colleges.

I’ll try to post that guide next week.