The Student News Site of Lake Forest High School

The Forest Scout

The Student News Site of Lake Forest High School

The Forest Scout

The Student News Site of Lake Forest High School

The Forest Scout

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Community College Is Not the “Worst-Case Scenario”

College+of+Lake+County+student+preparing+for+the+2023+Lake+County+Robotics+Competition+%28%40clcengineering+on+Instagram%29.%0A
College of Lake County student preparing for the 2023 Lake County Robotics Competition (@clcengineering on Instagram).

If you’re reading this, you’re probably slightly in shock, but let me let you in on a little secret: You’re not “too good” for community college. 

In a town that sends at least a few graduated seniors to ivies and other elite universities annually, whether you’re a student, faculty member, parent, friend, or so forth, the thought of attending anything besides a four-year university is basically unheard of and is, unfortunately, widely regarded as a failure.

That couldn’t be farther from the truth, and it’s high time we change that narrative.

2023 CLC graduate earning her diploma (@collegeoflakecounty on Instagram).

As tuition for college continues to increase, people are finally realizing that community colleges are practical, effective alternatives to four-year universities and colleges, especially in a post-pandemic world where 6.2% of LFHS graduates (from 2020 to 2023) went on to a public, two-year college, according to data provided by the guidance office. 

Why? Because of the many benefits community colleges offer. 

  • The cost difference. To put this into perspective, Illinois community colleges are nearly one-third the price of public Illinois universities and one-ninth the price of private universities. 

U of I in-state tuition is approximately 18k, out-of-state is approximately 36k, while the average Illinois community college costs 5k

  • The support to transfer. No matter the reason, for students who are unable to attend a four-year institution immediately after high school, community colleges provide students with ample support to transfer.

Since most community colleges don’t offer Bachelor’s degrees, students can avoid the tuition of a four-year university for a year or two and then go on to earn a four-year diploma. Through the U of I System Transfer Guarantee, if students from an Illinois community college meet the requirements, they are guaranteed admission into any of the University of Illinois System locations.

The requirements are:

  1. You must be enrolled at an Illinois community college after graduating from an Illinois high school
  2. Earned at least 36 graded, transferable semester hours upon application to any of the U of I locations
  3. Attained a minimum 3.0 GPA in all transferable courses completed by the application time
  4. Fulfilled the English language proficiency requirement of the university
  • Regardless of your future plans, community college gives students a fresh start. After years of guiding kids through the college process, counselor Megan Miles shared a student’s success story of transferring to U of I after one year at community college. 

“He had no trouble getting into U of I as a transfer after one year of community college, where it would have been challenging to do right away, but it takes bold students to go to community college,” Miles said. “If a student had a rough freshman or sophomore year that can impact their overall GPA, a community college erases your high school transcript. Once you have a year, possibly two, they’re looking at those grades only; they’ll glance at your high school transcript, but they will be mainly using [your community college grades] for higher education.”

Despite the numerous advantages of attending community college, the stigma lives on. 

Amid the tension, disappointment, and excitement with college decision season, Miles also stressed how the “embarrassment” of attending community college isn’t a phenomenon unique to Lake Forest and Lake Bluff.  

“This is a societal issue, it’s not just in our community. In America, college is an indicator of success. As parents, our biggest fear is wanting your kids to be okay. There’s this idea that those higher-end colleges are going to give them better opportunities, but, in reality, while they’ll give some good opportunities, there’s so many places to start.”

But…what’s the catch?

The freshman year of college experience.

The University of Alabama’s school spirit at a football game (@univofalabama on Instagram).

 The decision to attend community college likely means sacrificing that new chapter of exciting classes, meeting new people, and going to a faraway place that many of us have looked forward to throughout our high school careers. 

Ultimately, I understand the appeal of experiencing freshman year of college at a four-year institution. 

However, the reality is that we need everyone to sufficiently carry out their educational journey, whatever it may be, to contribute to the overall success of the country. 

Everyone has a different path, and it’s time we see community college for the viable option it is, not as a “worst-case scenario.” 

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About the Contributor
Amani Yousuf, Opinion Editor
Senior Amani Yousuf is thrilled to be back for round two with The Forest Scout, this year as the Opinion Editor! At the high school, Amani participates in the Human Rights Club, Muslim Students Association, Chinese Club, and plays for the lacrosse team. In her free time, you could probably find Amani at your local bookstore, Dairy Queen, or driving around blasting Taylor Swift. Amani is very excited to tackle a variety of stories on social issues, traveling, popculture, etc, and is looking forward to making the most of senior year! 
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  • A

    Amy LyonsFeb 23, 2024 at 3:53 pm

    1000% Community college is a smart long-sighted choice for a number of reasons as is Tech campus- another enviable resource and viable path that deserves more recognition and respect. We’re so fortunate to have access and proximity to these reputable community colleges: CLC, Oakton and Harper.

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    • A

      Amani YousufFeb 25, 2024 at 9:47 pm

      Exactly! It’s time we normalize it and make students feel proud of whatever their educational journey looks like.

      Reply