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BWW Blog: My Decision to Go to Dutchess Community College

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There is often a stigma around community college.

BWW Blog: My Decision to Go to Dutchess Community College

There is often a stigma around community college-- that the student body wasn't "good enough" to get into a four year school, so here they are. This couldn't be farther from the truth. Not only will community college save you money, but you will also get the opportunity to figure out what exactly you want to study and receive more direct attention from your professors.

I studied performing arts at Dutchess Community College. This decision came pretty easily for me as a student who struggled with standardized testing and didn't want to go into what is seen as a typical major.

Once I had started at DCC I quickly adapted to the new environment and the freedom of the community college program. I was able to work a part time job and still participate in extracurriculars. This made it possible to continue to save for a future university even while completing my first two years of school. This made my options for a future school much greater and gave me the time to really find the best fit for me, which turned out to be Rider University!

When leaving high school, I didn't feel prepared to take on the college audition process or the challenges that come with a bigger performing arts program. DCC gave me the time and resources to really focus on preparing myself and building my skills so that I could present myself to the best of my abilities at that time. I was given performance opportunities in my first year and received my first lead role in a musical as Benny in "In the Heights." I was also able to get my footing as a costume designer and in many other on stage aspects like show choir and even started to build up some dance technique and ability. Going to community college gave me the time and space to explore new aspects of theatre and really build my skills as a performer, but I am not the only one.

I also interviewed DCC alumni Cedric James on his experience at a community college and how it helped him transfer to Purchase College to study dance.

Here are his thoughts:

How did you come to the decision to attend Dutchess Community College?

"I attended community college for a couple different reasons. My dream was to attend Purchase College and join the BFA dance program, but I found out during my junior year of high school that I would need spinal surgery sooner rather than later. I was able to push it to the summer after my senior year, but my hopes of going to a 4-year dance intensive program didn't seem realistic. In addition to the surgery, my dad and sister both attended Dutchess which influenced the decision to follow suit. My dad assured me that I'd still get a good education and I'd be able to save money before deciding to transfer elsewhere. Dutchess did a bridge program with my high school, so students could take college level courses their senior year and it would actually count towards your degree. After knowing I wasn't going to a 4 year right out of high school, I took advantage of the in-person/instant application (Dutchess brought advisors with applications to my high school) opportunity and decided it would be best to attend community college because i could recover and grow physically without falling behind in school and get a head start on my degree."

What are some of the positive aspects coming out of a community college program and were you behind your peers once you finally did transfer to Purchase?

"I've found there to be a lot of positive aspects of community college. It gives the college experience, but in a more attainable way (in terms of classes and housing). The course load is obviously larger than high school, but you're introduced to it in a setting that is closer to home or even at home if you don't dorm at your community college. The shock of suddenly being on your own isn't there, so it's easier to adjust to the workload. Community college also provides a lot of opportunities that you may not have when moving onto a 4 year institution, a lot of classes are open and available to any student regardless of major or concentration, and that may not be the case when you declare a specific major/minor/concentration elsewhere without prerequisites. You can really explore your own field or any other ones you're interested in. you just have to take the step and actually do it, which I admit can be hard in community college. looking back, though, I wish I took advantage of the opportunities and didn't just do the same thing. I love dance, but taking a stage management or lighting course (or doing some sort of work in it) would've been fun before that option wasn't available to me in my 4 year institution. I didn't feel like I fell behind at all while at community college. Many other students transfer in at any age and at any stage of their college career, so I was one in a much larger group of people who were also trying to figure their lives out at a new school. As long as you have an advisor, professor, or even friend that you can speak to and help you navigate things within the first semester, you should be set for the rest of your go at another college. It does take time to find the right person, but that first semester will be more intro and required courses so you'll have time in those couple months to dig deeper and figure out what you want to do."

Overall, the choice to go to a community college is very beneficial in saving money and getting a head start on your degree without having to completely change your surroundings. The stigmas surrounding community college are completely false: you won't be behind your peers when you transfer and the student body at a community college will be more diverse and willing to help throughout your time. Hopefully this will help a graduating high school student on their decision about community college. I would like to thank the amazing faculty at Dutchess Community College for an amazing two years and all the help and guidance I was given while attending the college. a??a??a??a??a??a??

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