NECC Observer

The student news website of Northern Essex Community College, Haverhill and Lawrence, Mass.

Community College Life

By Andrea Davis

Many students who attend community college feel that their college experience varies greatly from those students who attend a university. It’s no secret that dorm life plays a huge role in a college student’s experience. When someone hears the word “college,” they might think of red Solo cups, bonding with roommates, and fraternity parties until 2 a.m. Community colleges do not provide that aspect of “college life.” Social events play a major role in our college years as well as various academic advances. Many students at Northern Essex Community College feel that they are less likely to participate in school events because of this.

Only about 28 percent of community college students will graduate within three years, according to the U.S. Department of Education. Those who graduate take five years to complete their degrees. This is because real life tends to get in the way.

“I work 40 plus hours a week, have a two ­year­ old son, and am enrolled in five classes this semester,” said Kaitlyn Garrison, a Nursing major. “In previous semesters I have only taken one or two courses at a time, because it is simply all that I could handle at once. I think that if I were to live away at school it would be easier for me to complete my degree on time. . . The majority of my friends who are away at school do not have to work. They have more time to study and focus on their studies. I have other obligations that tend to slow me down, and I think that is true for a lot of other people as well.”

Community college used to have a reputation of being much less academically serious than traditional 4 ­year universities. This has dramatically changed in recent years, as academic standards have increased, as have the qualifications of the professors.  “Community colleges really have a stigma to them, and they always have. People thinkthat we aren’t as smart as those who go to ‘real colleges.’ I think that is stupid. I work just as hard as anyone else does.” said Alexandria DeLotto, a Public Health major. “After high school, I felt

ashamed that I wasn’t going off to a big school like my other friends. I was embarrassed that community college was my only option for an education. That is definitely not the case for me anymore.”

“I went to UMass Amherst for a semester and life was extremely different than it is here. It’s a lot easier to make friends and the classes seem to be less awkward. I think that is because everyone is the same age,” said Nicole Keene, a Public Health major. “Everyone knew when major school events were happening because everyone talked to each other.

“Also, a lot of people think that community colleges are easier, workwise, and that is very far from the truth. The work is consistent and the material we cover is ultimately the same, the environment is what truly makes it so different.”

NECC offers several different clubs, sport teams, group events, and seminars that a lot of students are unaware of.

“I had no idea that we had a gym at Northern Essex. I did not even know that we even had any sports teams,” said Zach Mckallagat, a criminal justice major. “I did not think there were sports teams offered at community colleges. That shows how much school spirit I have. I think that NECC could do a better job with promoting these types of things. It is a small school, but there’s still a lot of people here that would like to participate but haven’t gotten the chance to.”

“Community college is an amazing thing. It provides students with the tools they need to move onto a 4 ­year school. Not everyone has tens of thousands of dollars to go off to a big school right after high school. I sure didn’t,” said Amanda Atchley, a Psychology major.  “Northern Essex has given me a chance at a brighter future and I couldn’t be happier with the time I spent here.”

Related Articles