Ending the Community College Stigma

Mar, 30 2021

Dark blue background with white left aligned text that reads Ending the Community College Stigma and underneath in smaller text Community colleges are second to none in higher education and a laptop, book, lightbulb, briefcase and pencil holder icons in the center

April is Community College Month, a time dedicated to bringing awareness to the value of community colleges nationwide. For years, community colleges have been viewed as lesser higher education institutions. As one of the nation’s largest community college systems, MCCCD works each day to proudly dispel the negative stigma and misconceptions often associated with these institutions.  

Misconception #1: People who attend a community college will not get a high-paying job as opposed to those who have a four-year degree.

Although associate degrees cost less and generally have shorter completion periods, this does not mean graduates are not afforded high-paying job opportunities. There are plenty of high-paying careers that only require an associate degree. For instance, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data shows that radiation therapists can earn a median annual wage of $85,560, and dental hygienists can earn an average salary of $76,220. 

Misconception #2: Community college tuition is cheap, therefore the education is not high-quality. 

This is one of the most common and false myths, as the Maricopa County Community College District (MCCCD) is built on serving students with high-quality opportunities. Community colleges offer fully accredited, challenging courses and rigorous programs. MCCCD has partnerships with industry leaders like Intel, Amazon, and Microsoft that provide students with innovative programs in current, high-demand industries. Because community colleges are more affordable, does not mean the quality of education is compromised. 

Misconception #3: Community college credits do not transfer to four-year institutions. 

Community colleges are continuously making efforts to improve the quality of education by enhancing transfer pathways to universities. The Maricopa Community Colleges have unique transfer partnerships with all three public universities in Arizona, and various out-of-state, private, online college and university partners. With these offerings, students can seamlessly transfer when they are ready. In the 2019-2020 school year alone, nearly 7,000 MCCCD students successfully transferred to a university.

Misconception #4: A degree from a community college is not as valuable as a university degree. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has reshaped the future of higher education, increasing the demand for non-degree credentials, such as non-degree certificates, micro-credentials, and other upskilling opportunities in lieu of a traditional degree. MCCCD training and certifications account for 95 percent of Arizona's most in-demand jobs. A community college certification or degree can take you straight into the workforce or a four-year university.

Misconception #5: Community colleges don‘t offer as much financial aid as universities. 

Community colleges offer a wide array of financial assistance programs and have financial services staff to help students make financially responsible decisions. In the 2021 Spring semester, MCCCD awarded $6.6 million in scholarships to students. The Maricopa County Community College District Foundation has even made scholarships more accessible by creating a seamless application that allows MCCCD students to use one application to apply for hundreds of scholarships.


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