When I graduated high school in 1995, I was torn between attending a traditional college and going to the community college in my hometown. I had received a scholarship to a four year university, but I knew I would be faced with a financial deficit if I went there. I started a work study program the summer after high school and made it so far as to being assigned a roommate at the dorm.
But two weeks before college was to begin I had a change of heart, and decided dorm life was not going to be for me. I wanted to go to the Dyersburg State Community College Gibson County campus that was right beside our town’s high school. I knew that I would be taking the same classes there that I would at the four year university, and I would spend about a fourth of the money. So I made some calls, got my scholarships changed there and began.
Right away I knew that this was a different experience than I would have on a regular campus. In most of my classes I was with adult learners who had been misplaced from their jobs. The professors on campus were kind to the students, but they expected a lot from us. The adult learners were wonderful to be around, because they had already been in the workforce and knew that an education was their best defense from being unemployed again. They taught me that in order to receive a quality education I had to put in just as much work as the professors did. That was an invaluable lesson. After graduating from community college, I commuted to a regular four year university. The difference in the atmosphere was astonishing. The four year university was filled with students straight from high school who were there just because it was expected of them. Most were there on their parent’s dime, and class attendance was hit or miss at best. Adult learners attend every class, mainly because they are paying for their education, and they expect to get their money’s worth. They did their homework, and asked questions of the professors. Class discussions were lively and at times heated, which made for an exciting atmosphere, but also one where I really felt like I was involved and learning.
The first three semesters I attended DSCC I was fortunate to have all my classes at the satellite campus. That meant I was five minutes from home so the lack of housing was never an issue for me. The last semester I attended I had to travel to Dyersburg, which was a 45 minute commute from my house. My husband and I were just married, so we tried to work our schedules to where we could commute together. He was working an early morning shift at a local freight company, so there were many mornings he would go into work at 2 am, get off work and we would fly to school, hoping to be on time.
I graduated from DSCC in May 2007 with an A.S. University Parallel. Do I feel cheated to not get the “full” college experience? Not in any way. I learned so much in my time there, and not all of it came from books. I learned that to get the best education possible I had to find a way to really work at it. I found a group of people who were as determined as I was to get a quality education and we studied together at least once a week. That fact in and of itself made my experience wonderful. Many of the people I met there are still friends today. I went on to purse a four year degree and had no trouble at all having my credits transferred. It was almost as if I had attended the four year college, but spent much less money. To me, that’s a win all the way around.