Book Review: Community College Companion

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“Everything You Wanted to Know About Succeeding in a Two-Year School”

Two-year schools, sometimes called junior colleges, technical schools and most commonly community colleges, are an important part of the higher education spectrum with some 1,200 such institutions in operation across the country. These schools help prepare students for new careers and are also a good starting point for students who plan to pursue a four-year degree.

Earlier this month, I was offered a review copy of Mark C. Rowh’s book, “Community College Companion,” and decided to read it for two reasons: a number of our readers are interested in community colleges and it also reminded me of my own educational path: I began my pursuit of a B.S. in Business Administration at a community college and transferred to a state college where I earned my degree. Yes, I can personally testify that community colleges can be an excellent way to go and, judging by their booming enrollment levels, are a desirable option for many students.

Dr. Rowh’s Community College Companion (2010 | Jist Works) is a 240-page guide to help students navigate the two-year school process. Rowh leaves nothing out: he takes the reader from considering the idea of taking the community college route, to applying, the community college experience, study tips, selecting a major, transfer to a four-year college and beyond. Throughout his guidebook, Rowh offers “Voices of Experience” pull quotes, detailing what community college students, administrators and instructors have to share about the topic at hand.

So, why would anyone consider a community college in the first place? A number of reasons including:

Reasonable college costs — Community colleges cost less, far less than most four-year institutions. Importantly for some, college costs can be covered by Pell Grants, removing a significant financial burden off of the shoulders of families.

Open enrollment — Most two-year schools offer open enrollment with no SAT tests or letters of recommendation needed to apply. An admissions application followed by obtaining high school transcripts is usually all that is needed to help students enroll.

Motivated instructors — Rowh had this to say about community college instructors: “Community colleges are filled with people who truly care about students.” (see page 9) I’m not sure I agree with this statement, especially if that means professors at four-year schools don’t have the best interests of their students in mind. Plus, my own experience (long ago) showed that a number of adjunct faculty were clearly preoccupied with their careers and were teaching on the side.

Career preparation — Community colleges offer a number of two-year degrees, but they also offer training leading to certification. Those programs, usually a year or shorter, have allowed laid off workers and career changers make an important transition in their lives.

College transfer — Important for a lot of community college students is being able to transfer their credits to a four-year college. Rowh covers that option in Chapter 10, emphasizing to students to take the right classes while at community college including those that can be transferred. He offers guidance on how to prepare to transfer including targeting those schools likely to accept community college credits.

Rowh advises students to make the most of their community college experience by connecting with other students and their professors, joining clubs and giving back to their schools. Some schools have student ambassador programs where students liaise with the community to advocate on behalf of community colleges.

Does Rowh’s guidebook succeed in making a case for two-year schools? Definitely. And, it offers more than enough hand-holding to cover every conceivable topic related to applying, studying, succeeding and completing a program. While not every community college is the same, most are very affordable which counts for a lot in today’s tough economy.

Related Reading

Are Community Colleges the Way of the Future?

Is Axia America’s National Community College?

Low Income Students Ditching College

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Categories: Book Reviews