New outlook on community colleges

By Genesis Castillo

After leaving St. Edward’s University, a small, private liberal arts college in Austin, I was skeptical about moving back to Dallas and transferring to a community college. Not sure of my decision to move back home, I visited several Dallas community colleges.

Tuition at St. Edward’s was very expensive, and my parents had paid for my tuition my first year. However, I could not imagine how they would manage to pay for three more years, so I decided to come back to Dallas.

I graduated from a prestigious all-girl high school in Dallas. My classmates were all attending prestigious universities, like Yale and Stanford, so I just felt ashamed for transferring to a community college.

After visiting Richland, Cedar Valley, Mountain View and Eastfield, I decided I would make Eastfield my new college. Although I liked it best out of all the Dallas community colleges, I still had some negative preconceptions about community colleges. I believed I would not be challenged as I had been in my previous schools, and assumed student involvement would not be as high.

During my first week of classes, I heard about the club fair. I attended the fair and a guy in my speech class called me from the Bible Study group table. I decided to join. I later met other people through him, people I am still friends with and attend church today.

Those friendships have brought me closer in my relationship with God. And because of that, I believe that transferring was one of the best decisions I’ve made. Now, two years later, I am a Sunday school teacher at my new church.

That first year, I felt like a failure because I had always envisioned myself attending a four-year university after graduation. I never expected to be enrolling at a community college, especially after I had been accepted into a number of colleges my senior year. “So much work for nothing!” I thought.

Eastfield surprised me, though. The classes were small, just like they had been at my previous four-year university. And the professors really cared about my success. There weren’t any teacher assistants. Instead, teachers took the time to help students one-on-one with assignments.

The student involvement center really made me feel welcomed.

Now, as I walk around campus, I see familiar people who greet me by name. Even the guy at Subway, whom I took an English class with, is friendly. The writing center is full of tutors who are more than willing to help, even with my transfer essays.

Moreover, tuition at Eastfield is among the cheapest in the nation. The affordable education gives hope to students pursuing a career. There are even programs in place to help students make the transition to a four-year university, such as Phi Theta Kappa. Professors are also more than willing to write letters of recommendation for students.

Deciding what I want to study for my degree was a challenge. At Eastfield, I’ve been able to discover my strengths and weaknesses and what I love and don’t like so much through the classes I’ve taken.

I would strongly recommend Eastfield to students who are working on their basic core requirements.

Students can save a considerable amount of money by starting at a community college. Classes here can really help students grow before they transfer to a four-year institution.

Many people seem to be skeptical about community colleges and even look down on them. I used to be one of them. However, I have grown so much here at Eastfield.

Our campus is a very special community college because of its staff and students. I used to be ashamed to wear anything with the Eastfield name on it, but I have come to love the school. Now I wear the name with pride.

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