Myths and realities of community college
Apr 09, 2014 | 767 views | 0 0 comments | 32 32 recommendations | email to a friend | print
As we celebrate National Community College Month and approach Cleveland State’s 50th anniversary, let’s address some of the common misperceptions that readers may have about college and about community college in particular.

Myth #1: Community college is just for people who can't get in anywhere else.

Reality: Community college is for people who are smart. It may be true that some students have lower ACT scores than some university students, but many attend community college for convenience, family, job or financial considerations. Think about it. Community college provides an open door to people who want an education and are dedicated to doing more with their life despite their background or circumstances. Going to community college means YOU have made a choice in the right direction, toward a better future.

Cleveland State provides challenging opportunities for high performing students with a robust honors program; dozens of students voluntarily choose to increase the rigor of their studies even in highly demanding programs like nursing. One of those graduates, Nicholas Hatcher, is now completing an associate’s to master’s degree program in nursing at Vanderbilt University. Students with excellent grades can join Phi Theta Kappa, an international honor society geared toward students attending two-year colleges. PTK encourages excellence in academics and provides benefits including leadership training, opportunities and alumni networks. The fact that they have over $36 million in scholarships available to their members doesn’t hurt either.

For many people in Bradley County and our surrounding service area, Cleveland State Community College provides a great education with reduced student debt, the opportunity to transfer and earn a bachelor’s degree or to go right to a good paying job. That is a smart move.

Myth #2: College is a place for brainiacs, people who are smarter than I am.

Reality: The song by Ty Herndon so popular right now points out many of the “... lies I told myself I’m glad I didn’t believe.” One of those lies is that you have to know it all to be able to attend college. That line of reasoning forgets that the purpose of college is learning. Everyone who attends college comes to learn something, a new or deeper skill, an understanding that reaches beyond what you currently know or can do. There are a lot of messages we tell ourselves that just aren’t true. (I’m too old, too busy, too poor, etc. for college.) I came across a super website sponsored by Country Music Television that reveals the truth about some of these lies you might believe about yourself as a learner. Check it out at

Cleveland State specializes in assisting you to become a stronger learner through a seminar course designed especially for first-year college students, your own academic advisor, peer mentoring in several of the tougher courses, writing and math tutors and more. We offer expert support for our veterans, honoring your service with ours. We seek to empower students with learning disabilities or physical disabilities to achieve your academic goals. And don’t forget that we also have financial aid counselors, too.

Myth #3: Community college is basically 13th grade.

Reality: Community college classes are rigorous and require more self-management and more time studying than do high schools. Community college is COLLEGE and professors expect a lot from students. Cleveland State faculty are highly qualified, hold advanced degrees and have real work experience in business and industry. They came to Cleveland State for the opportunity to work with you — to engage with students in the classroom, laboratory and in internships in the community. Their focus is on student learning, not research or publication, and they expect your best in return. They should because you are capable. Some students drop out of college when life gets in the way — college is not easy for anyone. But anything worthwhile is hard, and with effort, your experience at community college will be the beginning to a very successful collegiate future.

Don’t believe the myths. Seek out the truth. Your attitude about community college, and more importantly yourself, has a huge impact on success.

Cleveland State Community College has been the place to start something great for almost 50 years. The success of our students has just begun.


(About the writer: Dr. Denise King is the vice president for Academic Affairs at Cleveland State Community College. This guest “Viewpoint” has been submitted in observance of National Community College Month.)