Local Institutions Greatly MisjudgedThursday, October 02, 2008 By Donald Borenstein, Special to The Pitch
As summer begins to slip off over the horizon, seniors across the nation are buckling down to do their college apps, each one of them sighing as their summer disappears into a stack of transcripts and teacher recommendations. Here in “MoCo,” the college application process marks the beginning of junior year, as since then, life for many has become a slew of college visits, SAT prep courses, college fairs, “leadership” camps, and essay-writing workshops all geared towards obtaining advantages in the college application process. Each of these students is consumed by a terrible fear: a fear that they won’t get into their top choice school, a fear that they’ll have to stay in state or -gasp!- even go to “MC”! In an area as affluent as Bethesda, there is a prevalent attitude of contempt towards Montgomery College (MC), and in some cases, even towards the University of Maryland. Students turn their noses up at their peers who attend College Park (UMCP), as they believe that private, more expensive institutions are inherently superior. For these individuals, going to MC for $3,000 a year is a nightmarish fate. However, MC is a superb establishment of higher education, and on a yearly basis it has countless students transfer to elite institutions such as Harvard, Yale, Georgetown, NYU, Emory, Cornell, Carnegie Mellon and UMCP, to name a few. Indeed, MC offers guaranteed transfer admission to UMCP for students who maintain good grades while at MC, an impressive benefit considering the fact that UMCP is becoming exponentially more difficult to get into. We are fortunate enough to have in-state access to two of the top establishments of higher education in the nation: UMCP and MC. Indeed, UMCP is ranked as one of the 53 best universities in the nation by US News and World Report, and MC is one of the top community colleges in the nation. And both are significantly cheaper than any private or out of state institution. A freshman at UMCP who chose to remain anonymous noted that, “[Students are] deluded by the College Board system into thinking that [they should be] getting into the highest level education can possibly afford, when in reality, getting any higher level education will really do you as good as any other,” a sentiment that brings to light the socioeconomic issues behind the attitude of many seniors. Not to chastise anyone for applying to or aiming for a school besides UMCP or MC. Everyone should find a school that is right for them, and for some, there are better fits than UMCP or MC. But this does not excuse snobbery towards their peers who go to either of these schools, as it is just as easy to find a quality education in Rockville, Md. as it is in Cambridge, Mass.