A Reason to Celebrate
It’s graduation night at our local community college, and as a member of the board of trustees, I get to sit on the stage and see it up close and personal.
I love graduation. I love the diversity of the graduates.
A lot of our students, of course, enrolled right after high school, and many of them will be transferring to 4-year schools with the money they saved by living at home and paying the lower community college tuition.
About a quarter of the graduates are military or military-related, and that’s where a lot of our ethnic diversity comes from. There are moms starting college now that the kids are in school. There are dads who lost their jobs and are retraining for another career. There are grandmothers who want to learn something new. There are twenty-somethings back home having been mustered out of the military, ready to find a career. There are thirty-somethings who weren’t interested in college after high school, but after ten or so years in a dead-end job, figure they’re ready now. And they usually are. As the graduates cross the stage to receive their diplomas, we’ll hear little kids yell, “Yay, Mom!” Our graduates can range in age from 18 to 80.
Community colleges are the most underrated linchpins of American education. Scholarships and financial aid are available. Classes are held evenings and weekends to accommodate working students. Childcare is available. Basically, if you want to go, there’s a way to make it work.
So it’s a joyous evening for the graduates, their families, the college, and the entire community. So economists and university academics, don’t tell me who should or shouldn’t go to college. Watch with me as the unlikely and the improbable as well as the eager and expected cross the stage and begin new lives.