Eliminating the Community College Stigma
By April Harper, College Adviser at Bunn High School | May 10, 2017
As an NC State College Adviser, my mission is to assist first-generation, low-income, underrepresented and rural high school students navigate the path to postsecondary education. This year, was my first year serving Bunn High School in Franklin County, North Carolina. My biggest priority for my students is to be personable and allow them to recognize the authenticity in my walk towards education. Growing up, I always wanted to become a student athlete in college, but I instantly had to change my path my junior year of high school based on an injury and grades. When I approached my senior year, I wanted to continue playing sports, but I realized that I needed to change my perspective on receiving a higher level of education for sports. So, I decided to attend Catawba Valley Community College (CVCC) in Hickory, North Carolina so I could save money and receive the education needed while I investigated my options towards my future.
The Turning Point
During my time as a student at CVCC, I had a 4.0 GPA which granted me the opportunity to join Phi Theta Kappa (PTK) Honors Society. Later, I became a member of CVCC Circle K International. As a PTK member, I had a chance to create a PTK scholarship at CVCC that encouraged members to become more involved in community service and uphold the responsibility of a high-grade point average. During my time as a CVCC Circle K member, I had a chance to implement service projects in the Hickory area that allowed our club to perform the highest number of service hours in our division during the 2011-2012 academic year. Upon graduation, I applied to the University of North Carolina at Pembroke, North Carolina State University and East Carolina University where I received acceptances to all three universities. After receiving my Associates In Arts Degree from CVCC, I decided to attend North Carolina State University and graduate with my second degree in Africana Studies.
Eliminating The Community College Stigma
Attending CVCC was the best decision I had ever made because I received an affordable and quality education. As a first-generation college student from a low-income rural area, I had to make the best decision based on what I deemed was right for me. Gratefully enough, I had two siblings who had finished college before me so I could receive advice when needed. However, our pathways were different considering I was starting a trend that only required that I focused on my education without playing a sport, attending a community college and later transferring to a four-year university. At CVCC, I learned more about the Comprehensive Articulation Agreement, which “Assures admission to one of the 16 UNC institutions (Transfer Assured Admissions Policy) and enables NC community college graduates of two-year Associate in Arts and Associate in Science degree programs who are admitted to constituent institutions of the University of NC to transfer with junior status”. When I graduated from CVCC, all of my college credits transferred to NC State because I had above a 2.0 GPA and passed all of my courses with at least a C.
Today, I am educating students about the advantages that community colleges have to offer. For example, Bunn High School students who are eligible can enroll into the Career and College Promise Program which allows students who have at least a 3.0 GPA and are considered college-ready to take community college courses for free. Also, I present presentations regarding my college pathway which allows students to consider community colleges based on a Match and Fit criteria. I encourage them to research the potential time and money they could save if they allow themselves to take their education seriously the first time and explore the options that community colleges offer them if they surpass the negative connotations that placed on community colleges. This year, 48% of Bunn High School seniors have completed college applications for Vance-Granville Community College and Wake Technical Community College as a first or second choice after graduation.
NC Community Colleges Creating Success. 02 Apr. 2015. Web. 10 Apr. 2017.