The Truth about Junior College

Sadie McGuire, Entertainment Editor

It’s the burning question for every high school senior. Once any curious adult obtains the knowledge that it’s your last year, the question already forms on their tongue: “What college are you heading to next year?” About here is the point where I’d love to wow this impressionable adult with the fact I am, in fact, headed to University of Illinois next year; or better yet some small, private college like Bradley; or best, have my education carry over into the exotics of a whole other state, say at the University of Missouri.  But instead, my face turns red and a grimace cracks across my face as I am forced to mutter, “Joliet Junior College.”

Now, here is where the pause button must be pressed. Why should I be forced to feel the incredible embarrassment when admitting that I will be attending a junior college next fall? The pros are immense in this situation: saving a plethora of cash on general education classes, having time to actually figure out what I want to do with my life, and avoiding the cost of expensive room and board.  The average college tuition for private colleges in Illinois climbs up to $38,088 per year, while Joliet Junior College costs on average $2,800 per year, each credit hour costing $330.11. The logic in this situation seems obvious, yet there is still that pressure felt.

A lot of this comes from peers, even though their authority is no doubt questionable. While everyone is stressing and spazzing about applications, admission essays, letters of recommendation, and everything academic, I have almost the luxury of not having to worry about such troubles. Also seems to be another plus in the situation. Unfortunately, when admitting I’m planning on attending JJC next fall, I’m often greeted with smirks and shaking heads. Apparently JJC is not up to par when it comes to quality education, even though it provides the same general classes required at any university at a fraction on the cost.

Added pressure seems to come from right here at school as well, especially the honors program. As an honors student, it feels as though the heat is on to apply, apply, apply. From counselors visiting English classes working on example college essays, it seems to be a constant reminder that, “Hey, you should be applying to lots of colleges. And if not, what’re you doing wrong?” I’d like to think that I’m doing absolutely nothing wrong. Yes, I get good grades in school, participate in a few afterschool activities, and generally stay out of trouble. I’m sure—and not in a cocky way—that I could be accepted to a college I’d love to go to. But, I’d rather save the time, and of course the money, at a junior college, than wandering around and wasting my money at a university simply just trying to figure out exactly what it is I want to do with my life.

 In addition, during the senior cap and gown assembly, students were asked several questions regarding college, as asked to stand up if it applied to them. The questions included: who is already accepted to a university? A handful of students rise. Who is in the process of applying to a university? A couple more pop. And last, but certainly least, who is attending JJC next fall? Cheers and a surplus of students stand up.

Now this may be my overly critical mind, but why does JJC have to seem like, literally, a last resort? Is it dumb, stupid, and desperate to save gobs of money by getting your 2-year associates degree out of the way? Not in the slightest. Those planning on attending JJC, or any junior college for that matter, should not be looked down upon as stupid or less smart in any way, shape, or form.