September 2010

Community Colleges Offer Students Full College Experience

There is a buzz on college campuses each fall with the start of a new academic year.  The scenes from the first weeks of class are in many ways timeless and not bound by place.

A pair of students study by the lake.  One strums a guitar under an ancient oak.  Others hurry to class with backpacks full of books and notebooks ready to be filled with new knowledge and ideas.  When they have a moment, though, students stop and take in the beautiful campus views around them while catching up with old friends or continuing a discussion from class.

In a Student Center, old friends and new faces congregate to share their first thoughts on their classes.  Several check their Facebook page on the public computers.  Others listen to the band on stage and eat their lunch from the grill.  Student groups recruit their peers with the hope to bond over common interests and hobbies.

The student-athletes are already into their respective seasons, hitting their stride after the practices and preparation that took place throughout the summer.  They sweat out in the sun and inside the weightroom, putting in the time to beat their opponents in competition.  They also put in the hours in the library and work with tutors to excel off the field.  Some compete in solitary sports, learning to pull from within to succeed.  Others compete as a team, learning lifelong skills that will bring success on the court and in the boardroom.

Many students also work.  They fill on campus student positions, assisting with the vital functions of the college.  Others juggle school, work and family obligations with a firm eye on the future.  This balancing act is never easy, but these dedicated students see the rewards to be gained by earning a college degree.
Energized professors are excited to start a new academic year. Updated course outlines, the latest technological advances, and evolving current events add a dynamic jolt to topics that relate to centuries past.  Academic counselors help students focus on developing career plans and choosing a major.  Bookstore staff smile as new students buy their first college sweatshirts, embracing the college’s long history and community connections.  It is a hopeful time on campus.

These scenes could happen on any number of college or university campuses nationwide.  However, in this case, they are vignettes from Waubonsee Community College’s Sugar Grove Campus.  Many students dream of the ideal college experience and think they have to travel far to find it.  Over the years, I’ve seen firsthand that thousands of students find it close to home.  No matter where you find your perfect college experience, though, the first weeks of the new academic year are a glorious time on college campuses.  All too soon exams, papers, finals and a long, cold winter await us.  Take a moment to savor this fresh start!