What's a good US community college for humanities?
June 6, 2004 3:11 PM   Subscribe

Being young and foolish, a friend from #mefi is considering relocating to the US. Being also poor and uneducated, He will be in need of a moderately priced education, so he is looking at community colleges. [More Inside]

He says,
So for reasons too various to explain, I am considering moving. I am an American citizen, but I was born and raised in Europe. I don't have any particular location to move to in mind yet, but since I'll be needing a job to support myself, it'll probably be a metropolitan area. That makes New York City, San Francisco or Los Angeles likely candidates (I'm a tech worker).

Are you aware of any community colleges that have a particular reputation for being decent (if not good) in Humanities courses?

Eventually, I would like to transfer to a regular four-year college or university to study Political Science or International Relations, so any advice you could give me to that end, would be helpful.

Furthermore, at the risk of making this thread too unfocused, I'd be interested in any experiences you may have had while attending community college. Thanks.
Hope you wonderful people will help out an honourary MeFi member.
posted by riffola to Education (14 answers total)
I'll basically repost what I said in #mefi.

One, you may want to hang out and work for a year just to establish the local residency requirement for in state tuition

Two, the instructors often work in their fields and aren't academic paper pushers

Three, they offer many classes at night, so you can work a regular job and study at the same time and there's no requirement of x amt of hour courseload a semester
posted by pieoverdone at 3:16 PM on June 6, 2004

You're probably better off going to a smaller city and attending community college there. You'll be about as likely to find work to support yourself but the housing costs will be a fraction of what they'd be in Los Angeles, San Francisco or New York. I'd say pick the school first rather than pick the city first. I don't have personal experience but a few of my co-workers sent their kids to a liberal arts college, their college of choice is Carleton in Minnesota.
posted by substrate at 3:23 PM on June 6, 2004

BMCC is not bad, but if you come here, you might be better off going right to Hunter or CCNY (CUNY's regular undergrad/grad colleges).
posted by amberglow at 3:58 PM on June 6, 2004

Have to agree with substrate. The Kansas City burbs have a number of community colleges; JCCC has a good reputation. Then again, you're also in Kansas. It also depends on what the #mefi-ite wants to go into. JCCC has an excellent culinary program, for example. I'm sure it's similar at other places.
posted by gramcracker at 3:58 PM on June 6, 2004

Portland Community College is not a bad college by any means. Oregon has great weather and the state is largely democratic. Maybe your friend would be better in Portland, or Beaverton/outskirts.
posted by Keyser Soze at 4:05 PM on June 6, 2004

For the best balance between high-tech and cheap living, I hear that the Research Triangle (Raleigh-Durham, NC) is where you want to go. Other southern cities are growing fast as well: Charlotte, Atlanta (though much less cheap), and Orlando come to mind.
posted by PrinceValium at 4:30 PM on June 6, 2004

In California, community colleges have arranged with various CalStates and UCs for guaranteed transfer (ex. 1 2 3). If there's a particular 4-year (public or private) that he'd love to attend, I'd suggest that he ask that school's admissions department now whether they have articulation agreements with any CCs. Even if the agreement doesn't include admission guarantees, it usually does guarantee which courses will transfer and apply toward fulfilling the requirements of specific majors (which is also valuable--nothing like getting to your dream school and having to waste time/money re-taking a bunch of boring prereqs). The CC's humanities department may or may not be outstanding, but they will at least send him off prepared to get the most out of the PoliSci/IR program of his dreams.

Also, as pieoverdone said, consider taking off a year or so to qualify for resident rates. In California, he'd be be paying $18/unit (which may get waived too thanks to the BOGG) vs. ~$130/unit.

What kind of tech work does he do? The SF tech sector has been hurting for a long time from the crash. Things are starting to pick up again, but he should be careful about making assumptions re: SF/Silicon Valley employment. Oh, and there are other tech meccas in the US he might want to look at too, for instance Austin, Seattle, and (as PrinceValium mentioned) Research Triangle Park.
posted by nakedcodemonkey at 5:23 PM on June 6, 2004

Oh, and FWIW, is Humanities definitely the division he's interested in? At the colleges I attended, PoliSci was in the Social Sciences division (though apparently that varies). Just thought I'd mention it so he doesn't accidentally overlook good programs when checking catalogs.
posted by nakedcodemonkey at 5:56 PM on June 6, 2004

Are you aware of any community colleges that have a particular reputation for being decent (if not good) in Humanities courses?

I'll save you the cost of this education right now - "Would you like fries with that?"
posted by falconred at 8:21 PM on June 6, 2004

Parkland College in Champaign Illinois is a great school. Most of the instructors are ABDs, PhDs, adn postdocs from the University of Illinois (uiuc.edu), a top engineering school with a solid LAS campus. Champaign is a great community with a low cost/high standard of living. Your friend should be able to find a job without any problem and can commute to Parkland (parkland.cc.il.us) on the city's excellent public transportation.
posted by jmgorman at 8:45 PM on June 6, 2004

Santa Monica College. #1 in transfers to UCLA and USC (as KCRW reminds us every hour). It is pricey to live there but when you share a room the cost isn't too bad, and there's good public transportation there which cuts the expense of having a car you would have in most other cities.
posted by calwatch at 10:42 PM on June 6, 2004

I agree with calwatch, SMC is excellent.
posted by cell divide at 11:39 PM on June 6, 2004

Eventually, I would like to transfer to a regular four-year college or university to study Political Science or International Relations, so any advice you could give me to that end, would be helpful.

Pick a place to live such that the flagship state schools more-or-less have to take you after you have your AA. Again, you may want to just work for a year or two to be sure you're in-state.

Fulfill lower-level requirements and take a lot of what would be big lecture courses at Big State U. Sciences, math, intro humanities stuff, and your intro polisci stuff.

Ace everything you possibly can.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:44 AM on June 7, 2004

Response by poster: Thanks for your help everyone! My friend's read all your comments and thank you too.
posted by riffola at 1:21 PM on June 7, 2004

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