A few weeks ago, while waiting to board an airplane, I couldn’t help but overhear what appeared to be a mother on her cell phone discussing her son’s future college plans. “He thinks he’s going to Vanderbilt in the fall; however, room, board and tuition is seventy-one thousand dollars per year. That’s more than I make in a year. I can’t afford to send him there.” Not wanting to be intrusive, I said nothing; but if given the right moment, I was prepared to share with her the best secret in town and say, “Mom, I have the perfect solution to a parent’s dilemma, a most logical resolution to help your family.”
I’m thinking such conversations amongst parents are more common than we think as the cost of everything rises, not to mention the increasing concerns with student debts (according to Forbes, student debt is the second highest consumer debt category in 2018, only behind mortgages). Now, more than ever, is a time to remember a community college is the best kept secret in town. Whether you’re pursuing a liberal arts education, seeking a skill in a career and technical field, or looking to advance in your current career, the local community colleges are there to get you to where you want (and need) to be!
Of my five sons, four of them began at a community college, as did I. Three of them now hold master’s, one has completed his bachelor’s and is starting his master’s in the fall, and I completed a doctoral degree. At one time five of the Boyd men were in school at the same time, including me (Dad). For our family, like many others, our local community college was there for us, to educate and help, especially help out mom and dad as we managed the household budgets while ensuring our children move forward educationally. In addition, my wife and I were very happy to have our boys around for an extra year or two; and because of that extra time at home, we believe they were better prepared for the dorm life and independence once they did move on to a four-year university.
At Rochester Community and Technical College, we are here for families as well as your co-workers looking to advance in their careers. We offer a high-quality education at an affordable price. We are a best kept secret in town; but thankfully, our value is becoming more well known. Last year’s student president shared her story in the Post Bulletin about overcoming personal struggles in the foster care system and homelessness; and today she’s pursuing her degree at Yale University. This year’s student president figured out the secret of taking advantage of the Post-Secondary Enrollment Option (PSEO) program to complete his associate degree with us while also completing his credits to graduate from high school at the same time. And what about those five extraordinary individuals honored last month with an Outstanding Youth Award by the Rochester-Olmsted County Youth Commission. Four of the five are either currently attending or plan to attend RCTC because they have figured out the best secret in town is at their local community college to get on the right path to pursue their dreams.
So, while attending a graduation party, baby shower, wedding, family reunion, or some other gathering (or just waiting to board a plane), consider spreading the word about the value of a community college education. And for those pursuing a four-year degree, remind them of the value of earning that associate degree first – a high quality education at a much lower cost, and then transferring their credits (like many of our students) to complete their educational path. And for the naysayers that believe their son/daughter can only experience college life at a four-year university, remind them to check out RCTC’s theatre productions, musical concerts, student leadership opportunities, state-of-the-art labs, and nationally ranked athletic teams.
In my humble opinion, we are Rochester’s best kept secret, but by sharing the “perfect solution to a parent’s dilemma,” we won’t be for long.
Jeffery S. Boyd, Ed.D.