Seeming like yesterday but more years ago than I’d care to admit, I began my higher-education experience as thousands of students are doing this week, on a community college campus.
Community college was perfect for me. My time in high school was, shall we say, less than focused on high school. Don’t get me wrong, I participated in activities, even co-chair of the prom and did OK in class, it’s just that I was more interested in things outside the classroom, which at the time included skiing.
I knew I’d go on to college but I hadn’t given much thought to a career or course of study.
A neighbor and childhood friend said she was heading off to Bellevue CC, enrolled in an x-ray technician program. Sounded good to me, so we carpooled from North Seattle. After that first quarter, the course work sounded less good and I found the fact that Shoreline CC was closer to home more enticing.
I started taking classes, trying on careers. If not x-ray tech, how about nuclear medicine tech or just full-blown doctor? I found that’s more than a career, it’s a calling and I wasn’t hearing anything. Meteorology sounded like fun. Do you know how much math and physics you have to take, and pass, to get a degree in meteorology?
I began to gravitate to English, sociology and psychology classes. By happenstance, I found a strong writing teacher who encouraged my efforts and then found a transfer program to the University of Washington journalism department.
While newspapering was something of a family business – my father, mother and an uncle – I’d never really considered it for me until I tried it on and it fit like a glove.
The community college system in this state is one of those rare instances when a thing can be all things to all people and work well. It allowed me to experiment and find a rewarding career. For others, it can be the cost-effective step on a straight line to more clear goal. Or, it offers a chance to gain new knowledge and skills to change direction in life. Or, a place to continue to grow in a life of learning.
Good luck to those finding what they need at our community colleges.
Jim Hills is publisher of The Enterprise Newspapers.