College begins in kindergarten

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I came home from work yesterday and my grandson who is 5-years-old was so proud of his new T-shirt. Being the last day of class before he heads into first grade, the shirt said, “College begins in kindergarten.” I was really impressed that the school had given these out to the kids, but more so in the fact that they are doing its best to instill the need for higher education at such a young age.

I came home from work yesterday and my grandson who is 5-years-old was so proud of his new T-shirt. Being the last day of class before he heads into first grade, the shirt said, “College begins in kindergarten.” I was really impressed that the school had given these out to the kids, but more so in the fact that they are doing its best to instill the need for higher education at such a young age. In this day and time I believe it is imperative that our local schools promote higher education in the earliest stages of education and bring that knowledge of how important it is at the child’s level of understanding. And he understood that going to college meant that he would grow up smarter and have the ability to do anything that he wanted when he grows up.

Education is not cheap and it doesn’t look like the cost of college is going to start dropping anytime soon. A recent report by the American Association of University Women (AAUW) shows that right now there are around 44 million student loan borrowers in the U.S. with around $1.3 trillion in outstanding loans. It also indicates that two-thirds of this debt is women that choose higher indication with outstanding debts with more than $800 billion.

This is a problem that women that choose to go to college have to face. With many factors to consider as women are much more diverse in population with more circumstances in life that separate them from their male counterparts, with women taking out larger student loans than men do. Due to the gender pay gap they have less income to repay loans after graduation. In the fall of 2016, 56 percent of those enrolled in college were women.

There seems to be no relief in sight for the amount of student loan debt for anyone, but it is something that we should fight for from the ground up in making a college education less expensive.

I have always been a strong advocate for community colleges for several factors. First of all, it is all about the money. It is so much cheaper to take care of your associate’s degree at a community college than a university. So unless you have a full ride scholarship, or enough scholarship that makes it affordable for your family, community college is the place to go first. Another reason for community college is the care of education that students receive than at a university. It is a great stepping-stone for those coming out of high school and gives much more attention for those that choose to get a higher education later in life. You will not find the individualized attention that many students require at most universities like you can at community colleges. At most universities from the very beginning class sizes are so large that you become more of a number rather than a student. I have found that the quality of teachers at community colleges is as great as in any university.

I remember specifically my first semester in community college and my Spanish teacher. She is one reason I did not run away from going back to college as being older and a veteran I had a difficult transition going to classes with kids under the age of my own children. With my Spanish textbook, I just could not relate to the subject because it was centered on young college life and I went into the Navy out of high school, not college. She took the time to talk with me and find a plan that worked for me. As far as the textbook, I still had to do the assignments, but in our everyday writing and speaking she told me to focus on the words and verbs of the week and use them in my life as it was at that time. I went from what I thought was almost failing to an A student with her help. It was so much easier for me to relate the learning of Spanish when applying it to my life as it was. Her intervention, the ability to have the time to speak with me one-on-one made a difference in how I approached higher education later in life. You will rarely see that kind of one-on-one college experience at a university.

Over the past decade, local legislatures have been working on getting some community colleges to offer a bachelor’s degree in some subjects. The pilot programs have gone well and Cuyamaca College just announced its partnership with Valley City State University and is now offering a bachelor’s degree in elementary education. This is exciting news as the costs of this education is only around $16,300 for the entire two-year program. This is worth celebrating and a degree in elementary education is needed now more than ever as the need for elementary teachers is projected to grow by 10 percent over the next decade and our public schools need all of the help that they can get as the U.S. ranks anywhere between 20 and 38 in the world in education depending on the criteria the statistics are based on. That is simply sad. Everyone talks about making America great again. Start with educating our populace without breaking students with debt.

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