JC rules

Students consider community college to get their heads and finances straight

Photo By Tom Gascoyne

Taking the plunge into college from high school can be a little overwhelming at times and quite expensive, whether you’re native to Chico or not. That’s why some students decide to get their feet wet first at a community college.

After moving from Brentwood, a small town in Contra Costa County, 20-year-old Alison Brandt set her sights on Chico State University. But instead of going directly to her school of choice to receive a degree in liberal arts, she decided to start at Butte Community College.

“I’ve never been to a college, so I didn’t want to go straight to a huge college and not really know anybody,” she said as she studied at a bench in the technology wing of Butte.

Brandt said she thought the transition would be easier that way.

“I didn’t want to come from a tiny little town,” she said, “and then come to Chico State, so I thought it would be a little easier and not as overwhelming to come here instead.”

Other students chose community college to kick off their education for different reasons.

“Basketball,” engineering major Justin Sinnott said simply. “I’d rather play for Butte instead of Chico State.”

MADAME PRESIDENT <br>Butte College President Diana Van Der Ploeg started working there in Fall 2003.

The 19-year-old power forward said he just didn’t have a desire to go to Chico State but does plan to continue his education elsewhere.

“I could have gone there [Chico State], but I wanted to go to Butte instead.”

Community college (the preferred term over “junior college") is also the starting-off point for those students who didn’t think they were going to go to college at all.

“I wasn’t sure I was even going to go to college at first,” said business major Graham Holt. “Then I decided I was going to, and it was too late to do all the SAT stuff, so I just enrolled in community college.”

Twenty-one-year-old Holt started his schooling in Reno but then transferred to Butte when he found that Chico State was where he wanted to be.

“I can’t go to Chico State directly, so I have to finish my core classes here and then transfer over next fall,” Holt said.

Another reason why community college is so popular these days is because of the high rate of tuition at state and private schools. Butte costs only $18 per unit, whereas a fulltime undergraduate student at Chico State would pay about $1,400 per semester.

In addition to helping students get a new start or ease them into the college experience, Butte offers vocational classes that are not available at Chico State. The fire academy and law enforcement classes offered are the only ones in the county.

So no matter where you’re from or what your plans are, the community college road may be the one for you.