From Ivy League to Community College

Posted on 12 September 2017 by admin

A love letter to STLCC Meramec


By: Melissa Wilkinson


I’ll be the first one to admit I was prejudiced. As the daughter of a Washington University medical school professor, community college was barely in my radar when I was choosing where to go after high school. But after receiving my bachelors from Cornell University, I still wasn’t quite sure what I wanted to do. I didn’t even consider community college until WashU told me they didn’t offer a graphic design program. I started at Meramec through their recommendation and figured it would be a quick in and out. I had no plans to get cozy with my classmates or join any extracurricular activities. I already had the college experience. I just wanted the degree.

But what I found at Meramec was so much more than that. I had low expectations for the quality of education I would receive here, but those thoughts vanished during my first semester. The teachers here are every bit as competent as those in the Ivy League but, without the academic research agenda and 500-seat lecture halls, they have plenty of time to devote to personalizing each student’s experience. And they want me to call them by their first name.2

What community college lacks isn’t the competency or curriculum of a 4-year university; it’s the arrogance. Whereas every Cornell student is used to being the smart kid of their high school class, students here are at all different places in their lives. Some are fresh out of high school and others are taking classes to enrich their retirement. But nobody brags about going to community college. The same society that lauds the achievement of an Ivy League degree shuns STLCC as a last choice for low-income or second-rate students. I know because I thought the same.

My attitude has changed drastically since coming here in Fall of 2016. I’ve met so many wonderful people with life experiences differing from mine. I joined the newspaper and became Editor-in-Chief. Rather than checking classes off a list to get my degree, I found myself engaged in the classroom, absorbing information from top quality professors. I fit in more here than I ever did at Cornell.

Community college isn’t a first choice for most people, but maybe it should be. It’s affordable and more accommodating to individual schedules than 4-year universities, but with the same quality education. The teachers here could easily be teaching at Ivy Leagues and yet they choose to stay here because they believe in the mission of this college. I don’t regret going to Cornell, but I certainly regret my previous disposition toward community college. I can truly say now that I love Meramec and would recommend it to anyone, whether they’re aiming for a 4-year degree or not. For the serious student planning to transfer, the casual learner looking to pick up a few new skills and everything in between, there’s a place for everyone at STLCC. I’m happy to have found mine at Meramec.


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