“Two Years Are Better Than Four”
The essay “Two Years Are Better Than Four” by Liz Addison is a response to Rick Perlstein’s “What’s the Matter with College?” piece. Addison is an advocate of the American community college system, which enabled her to reach her own goals of becoming a veterinarian student. Perlstein’s piece is a nostalgic description of what the four-year college experience used to entail for students, as he laments over the days where “pretentious reading lists was all it took to lift a child from suburbia” and when college “really mattered.” Addison argues that the community college offers a refuge that unconditionally allows students to “begin. Just begin.” The benefits of community colleges are highlighted throughout the essay as Addison explains how they allow students to develop themselves as learners and allow for independent growth. The “priceless springboard” that is the community college is therefore not only a gateway to higher education, but also serves as an institute for self discovery. This system is “America’s hidden public service gem” in which it is still possible to begin your college experience as a “rookie”. There is a chance for every citizen to advance their learning using this system and that that hope begins “with just one placement test”.
I agree with Addison’s view on the American community college system. It offers a chance to every individual to begin his or her higher education. If the ambition and desire lies within a person, the community college enables for goals and aspirations to be achieved. As I was born and raised in London, England I too experienced the Great British education system. At fifteen years old I completed my secondary education with ten GCSEs (General Certificate of Secondary Education), which were formally known as O levels. It would seem as though with ten GCSEs as opposed to Addison’s single one, that I would be in good standing to enter into the next level of education – the A levels a two year course mandatory for entrance to a University, however I began to doubt my ability as a student and an immense fear grew that I would not be capable of such high intellectual thinking that a University would demand. After the decision to take a year off, the thought of moving to the Untied States arose. After extensive online research on the American community college system, I immediately felt relieved that somewhere in the world, there is a place that allows for you to develop and mature while obtaining a higher education. Addison’s essay breathes hope and prospect to many which the traditional four -year Universities may not be a good fit for. She believes that this type of college experience “remains as it should.” That is a place of the initial development of thought and study. Some may disagree with Addison’s view stating that the comparison drawn between to two different types educational institutions illustrates an unfair view of the traditional four-year college; perhaps that the college experience ought to be more challenging and reserved. One may argue that the true college experience relies on obtaining a strong foundational intellect during the high school years, followed by a difficult and though provoking four years. Higher education is not for the mere “rookie” but rather the late adolescent individual whom has dedicated his or her time to
overcome any shortcomings in preparation for University. These types of determined young individuals deserve their places in their prestigious schools and are the hope for the future generation. Community colleges then are a place of shelter for those who initially could not adequately prepare themselves for higher education. Therefore the prestige and meaningfulness of a University cannot be challenged. This understanding still begs...
Cited: Gerald Graff, Cathy Birkenstein et al. “They Say, I Say With Readings” 2nd edition, 2012.
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