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Old 10-28-2008, 05:19 PM
 
5,807 posts, read 10,321,684 times
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Hi,

I'm a community college instructor. I am applying to a PhD program, mainly because my long term goal is to teach at a four year university.

I'm wondering is there anyone here that has had significant experience at both levels. What can you tell me about the differences. As a student I only have experience at four year universities, I have only taught, never attended community college.

My main reason I would say for wanting to teach at a four year university is the quality of the students. I know four year universities have issues with frats/drinking, etc., etc. and yes I know there is the issue of having to "dumb down" the material at the 4-yr level, but it seems to be the little bit of admission requirements and the fact that it takes a little more effort to get in, would weed out students that truly are not prepared.

Now keep in mind, andy comments about community college, for the most part does NOT apply to night classes and summer classes, there the quality of students are more adult or just more mature.

There are other reasons. I like having a real department, with faculty you see all the time, just a much greater intellectual atmosphere, more "community" at the four year level.

So what are your experiences? Is there anyone here that has had a better experience at the community college level.

I'm interested in hearing any and all input.
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Old 10-28-2008, 09:15 PM
 
Location: Chicago, IL
8,998 posts, read 12,748,310 times
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Eh, just as there are unmotivated students at community college, there are plenty at four year colleges as well.
One might look at the graduation rate of community colleges but you must also look at the student's goals. One student might want to take a few classes here and there just to transfer to a four year school without getting an associate's.
Some students just want to brush up on a few skills.

I chose a community college because I personally don't feel like taking out a bunch of loans for college. I probably could have went to one school for free but didn't apply there but I plan to go there once I get my associate's degree. I was in my high schools IB program, graduated with a good GPA, had an okay score on the ACT [25], I received scholarships at all the schools I applied to, etc but I still chose a community college.

I am happy with my choice because I am saving money, I am allowed to keep working, I am closer to the events I like going to, and I interact with students of all ages, backgrounds, etc.

Have you tried emailing the faculty at the school you want to teach? I bet they might be of some help. Some of them might have taught at both a four year and a two year school.
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Old 10-29-2008, 02:13 AM
 
Location: very near Georgetown, KY
197 posts, read 664,236 times
Reputation: 122
LiveTodayLez08, you made the smart choice by taking as many college courses as you could at the community college level, in order to save money. As long as there isn't a great loss of credits when taking them to a degree program in a four-year institution, it's what most people SHOULD do. Community colleges are better than the four year schools in terms of academics. You'll get more support from your teachers (at the four year level, professors are 'too busy' to help), and what you learn will likely be more applicable (four year schools tend to be heavy on theory).

I don't have anything nice to say to the OP, who strikes me as one of those 'busy work' types that have a need to tell everyone what 'department' they belong to. For The Record, one of the reasons there are greater admission requirements at the four-year level IS because there are so many students to pick from, it has little to do with the actual quality of said pool of students. I'm a firm believer that if you can do well as a student at a CC, then no four-year student has anything on you, academics-wise.

Having said that, GO COMMUNITY COLLEGES!
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Old 10-29-2008, 08:17 AM
 
Location: ATL suburb
1,366 posts, read 3,599,628 times
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Let's see, younger students, higher research and publication requirements, lower teaching load, less of a likelihood to hear, "my car broke down, so I couldn't get to class".

Quality of students can vary. I've dealt with extremely smart and motivated students at CCs and 4 year colleges/universities, and I've dealt with people I'm surprised they can tie their shoes without help at both. It depends on where you teach.

Now what do you mean "real dept"? CCs have real dept with discipline meetings, congeniality, curriculum revisement, office hours, etc. Research and publications are not required, but always look good and improve your possibilities for advancement and tenure. I would argue that there's more of a community feel at a CC, but there's a greater intellectual atmosphere at a 4 year school because of the research requirement. Since you implied that you don't see other faculty members all the time, I assume you're an adjunct? The same problem will apply at a 4 year school with adjuncts.

You are aware of the market for your field, right? It's not all daisies and rainbows. Make sure you know what you're getting yourself into. It would be a shame to spend the next 5 years of your life busting your butt, only to find yourself adjuncting for another 5 years just so you can teach a a 4 year school.

Good luck.
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Old 10-29-2008, 10:00 AM
 
5,807 posts, read 10,321,684 times
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Fair enough.

All the issues are very good ones.

I do want to make a few things clear.

I have had some excellent, mature students in the classes I teach at community college.

Another very important point. I want to help students and give time to them!!! Problem is they don't seek it. Every semester I have those students who come to class either seldom (just for exams) or regularly but who sit and almost looking like their distracted and staring into space, get an F or D on their exams, and never ask for help at all! I know you get this at four-year institutions but they are a much smaller percentage from my experience as a student.

I try to be VERY approachable, I smile, I provide a relaxed atmosphere in class, tell a couple jokes here and there. I try to get students engaged in discussion, but I still get student evaluations back with comments like "make it more fun" "make it less boring."

I do get on ocassion (usually either night classes or summer classes) with a student that is truly interested in the material but they are so rare. I have sit down with those students and helped them research institutions to transfer to, but usually I'm sitting down with students that missed a bunch of classes because of personal issues and I am trying to get them caught up, or students that for whatever reason, have forgotten just about everything they learned in high school.

Trust me, I bend over backwards for those students who seek it.

Part of the issue is that I teach geography, mostly physical geography, which involves much map reading/interpretation. And since these classes fulfill a natural science/physical science requirement, so I get students who are looking for the easiest lab and science credit to get, (yes, they even admit this) and whose math skills are atrocious, and many students (even adults) think college geography is about located countries, states, and cities. They are surprised to find it involves the similar kind of thinking as other sciences.

In regards to a "real department" this is not a status at all.

I am an adjunct. Even at four years they have usually "visiting" or "interim" faculty so faculty are still in offices in the SAME hallway working during the SAME "normal business hours" so you do interact with people in your same field five days a week. Plus most four-years are in college towns where students and faculty largely live within a ten minute drive. Thats what I meant by there being a stronger department and more of a community.
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Old 10-29-2008, 10:17 AM
 
274 posts, read 545,492 times
Reputation: 89
It really depends on the university.

I go to a 4 year university, and there are a lot of "trust fund" kids who just "show up" but don't want to get anything out of their education other than piece of paper that says "I graduated". (These are the ones that complain at the end of the semester that they "deserve" a better grade, just because). There are those (myself included) that try to seek out every educational opportunity, including those within the core classes. Granted, I may not put as much effort into them as those within my major or area of interest (mainly because of time constraints and needing to focus on one subject over another, not disinterest), but I will not just not show up. (I have not missed a single class in 3 years, even the "optional" ones).

It's really dependent on the maturity level of the students and what THEY want to get out of their education. I commend you on your interest in the subject you teach, your availability, and your attempt to engage the students in discussion. That is SO important to students who take an interest in furthering their education. I never respected the professors I had who were consistently late and came unprepared to teach.

Are you available by email and not just office hours? Some students may be afraid to do the whole "face to face" thing, especially if it's their first round of college classes. I would personally tell them to "get over it", but that's just my take on it. Are there any assignments that encourage group work? Working with others may be another way to engage them.
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Old 10-29-2008, 12:11 PM
 
Location: Chicago, IL
8,998 posts, read 12,748,310 times
Reputation: 3536
Quote:
Originally Posted by TheTransientTranny View Post
LiveTodayLez08, you made the smart choice by taking as many college courses as you could at the community college level, in order to save money. As long as there isn't a great loss of credits when taking them to a degree program in a four-year institution, it's what most people SHOULD do. Community colleges are better than the four year schools in terms of academics. You'll get more support from your teachers (at the four year level, professors are 'too busy' to help), and what you learn will likely be more applicable (four year schools tend to be heavy on theory).

I don't have anything nice to say to the OP, who strikes me as one of those 'busy work' types that have a need to tell everyone what 'department' they belong to. For The Record, one of the reasons there are greater admission requirements at the four-year level IS because there are so many students to pick from, it has little to do with the actual quality of said pool of students. I'm a firm believer that if you can do well as a student at a CC, then no four-year student has anything on you, academics-wise.

Having said that, GO COMMUNITY COLLEGES!
All my credits will transfer over and I have to take less classes in community college and can transfer to the same 4 year school some of my friends attend and I did less classes than they did the first two years.
It was the intention of the state that more people would transfer to four year schools so instead of having to take 6 Arts & Humanities hours, I only have to do 3 and things of that nature.

I have friends at four year colleges and they have taken summer classes at my school, they said they liked my school better because the classes were smaller and the professors more approachable.
I know that at some community colleges this is not the norm and I know at some four year colleges, some professors are very helpful.
One just has to make an educated decision. Excuse the pun.
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Old 10-29-2008, 09:43 PM
 
Location: ATL suburb
1,366 posts, read 3,599,628 times
Reputation: 1542
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tex?Il? View Post
Fair enough.

All the issues are very good ones.

I do want to make a few things clear.

I have had some excellent, mature students in the classes I teach at community college.

Another very important point. I want to help students and give time to them!!! Problem is they don't seek it. Every semester I have those students who come to class either seldom (just for exams) or regularly but who sit and almost looking like their distracted and staring into space, get an F or D on their exams, and never ask for help at all! I know you get this at four-year institutions but they are a much smaller percentage from my experience as a student.

I try to be VERY approachable, I smile, I provide a relaxed atmosphere in class, tell a couple jokes here and there. I try to get students engaged in discussion, but I still get student evaluations back with comments like "make it more fun" "make it less boring."

I do get on ocassion (usually either night classes or summer classes) with a student that is truly interested in the material but they are so rare. I have sit down with those students and helped them research institutions to transfer to, but usually I'm sitting down with students that missed a bunch of classes because of personal issues and I am trying to get them caught up, or students that for whatever reason, have forgotten just about everything they learned in high school.

Trust me, I bend over backwards for those students who seek it.

Part of the issue is that I teach geography, mostly physical geography, which involves much map reading/interpretation. And since these classes fulfill a natural science/physical science requirement, so I get students who are looking for the easiest lab and science credit to get, (yes, they even admit this) and whose math skills are atrocious, and many students (even adults) think college geography is about located countries, states, and cities. They are surprised to find it involves the similar kind of thinking as other sciences.

In regards to a "real department" this is not a status at all.

I am an adjunct. Even at four years they have usually "visiting" or "interim" faculty so faculty are still in offices in the SAME hallway working during the SAME "normal business hours" so you do interact with people in your same field five days a week. Plus most four-years are in college towns where students and faculty largely live within a ten minute drive. Thats what I meant by there being a stronger department and more of a community.
I understand your frustration. It would be so much easier to deal with students with a real interest in the subject or wanted to major in the subject, and have people you can share your enthusiasm with. You have been blessed (or cursed) with the dreaded "I don't need this class, but I need to fill a pre-req". I suspect that students find the subject matter itself boring. That's not necessarily a reflection of you, but for many people, if they can't see an immediate benefit for the course, they're just "there". Overall, I do agree with you about student behavior and expectations.

As for being more of a community in a 4 year college, well, that all depends. If you're an adjunct, you're still essentially invisible, even if you work "normal people hours". VAP etc, is just 1 step up on the foodchain. I don't agree with you on having "more of a community", so I'll agree to disagree on this aspect.

Like I said, make sure you know what you're getting yourself into if your goal is in acedemia.
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Old 10-30-2008, 04:14 PM
 
442 posts, read 1,289,150 times
Reputation: 304
College students are college students IMO. I currently attend a CC in the same city as a major Uni. I can safely say that I've met just as many morons who act as if they're still in HS that attend the Uni, as I have through the CC.
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Old 04-15-2012, 09:37 AM
 
Location: River North, Chicago, Illinois
4,359 posts, read 6,231,225 times
Reputation: 5793
Quote:
Originally Posted by TheTransientTranny View Post
... Community colleges are better than the four year schools in terms of academics. You'll get more support from your teachers (at the four year level, professors are 'too busy' to help), and what you learn will likely be more applicable (four year schools tend to be heavy on theory).
...
I don't have anything against community colleges - I think they're a great, needed and useful resource.

However, to say they're academically better because the instructors are more accessible is not necessarily accurate in a general sense, for a number of reasons.

Most universities, particularly at the undergraduate level, provide free tutoring. The professor may not be as available as instructors in some community colleges, but TAs or other helper staff are. Most of the helper staff would be qualified to teach the subject matter at many community colleges.

Smaller four-year colleges generally have professors who are more available than professors at research universities are, too.

Not all instructors at community colleges are any more available than professors at four-year universities are. Most four-year university professors are full-time professors, whereas many (if not most) community college instructors are part-time and have other outside pressures on their time, too.

Finally, theoretical knowledge is what separates a university education from a trade-school education. A university, in concept, is teaching you to think, whereas a trade school teaches you how to do. Most community colleges seem to be somewhere in between with maybe a little more emphasis on the "how to do" end of things. Both are valuable skills, but the end goals are somewhat different.
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