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Mentioning community college in SOP


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I went to a local community college in my first two undergraduate years in order to save money (and oh, I did - no debt :)).  I then transferred to one of the best universities in the world without a hitch.  However, my question is whether this should be addressed in the SOP.  It isn't unique or special, but it absolutely shaped me (I did get a position as an in-class tutor for lower-literacy students there, too).  I feel very strongly about my decision to go to a cc for two years (I absolutely feel like it was the right choice).  I am a huge advocate for the continuing presence of community colleges and how important they are to providing an opportunity for higher education (I'm still friends with a lot of the instructors there, and they are going through some difficult budget cuts - it's a very good cc in this area). 

 

But uh, that isn't unique or special either.  Should I try to concisely state in just one sentence or two something about my cc experience?  I also went to a local university to continue my Spanish (classes weren't offered at 300 level).  I mean, I am going to have to send them a transcript from both institutions, so it seems to me that I'm leaving something out if I don't say a word.  Plz help.

Edited by repentwalpurgis
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I don't think that's really relevant to your application. I agree with your sentiments but I don't think discussing your advocacy for community colleges makes sense in a SOP about why you want to do get a PhD in English. I think you should just keep it a concise couple of sentences that summarizes the most relevant parts of your CC experience (i.e. how did it shape you, if that's relevant to why you want to do grad school / why you would succeed in grad school).

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Yeah - I guess voicing those feelings about community college (I can't help but feel that some expect me to defend myself) and leaving it on the forum for a while has turned over a good leaf.  It's just difficult to think about how much I should reveal - if I should justify  myself at all, or something.

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I don't think adcom's are surprised to find that many of us who went to community college first valued it and it shaped tus in a variety of ways.  That solid foundation led to a Bachelor's and for some us even a Master's or PhD.  I agree that you being a community college advocate (me too!) isn't relevant to your sop.  Do however devote a line or two stating how your education there has helped you toward a PhD.  I've done that and so far the feedback from my reviews has been positive.

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IMO, it depends upon the school/program to which you're applying on a case by case basis.

Please do take a couple of close looks at your feeling that you need to defend yourself. If the feeling is a part of your motivation, you might hold on to it a bit longer. Else, letting it go may serve you better in graduate school. Then, you'll need ever thicker skin.

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I mentioned it in a couple of lines and no one mentioned it as a positive or negative. I think community colleges are becoming more normal and there is no need to defend it.

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I see no big reason to mention it, unless it has direct relevance on your prospective research, ect. Also, not sure how it worked with your transcripts, but I believe as long as the grades from the cc are listed on your graduating Uni, you do not need to send them any transcripts (because they have already been verified by your Uni and include grades, there is no point in having to send another copy with the same information).

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Only discuss it if it's directly relevant to your SOP. It's really not a place to discuss the importance of community college or how much it shape your life, unless of course that directly related to what you'd like to research or if something you did there contributed to your skills to be a successful graduate student in a significant way.

 

If the only reason you'd like to mention it is because you feel the need to defend yourself, don't mention it. You have no need to justify your path, and I doubt the admissions committees would count it against you (and if they do, then you probably wouldn't want to go to that school in the first place). You got your degree from a top university--you have nothing to prove.

 

Your SOP is not a soapbox =D Save that for a more relevant time.

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You're going for English.. no? Which would mean you're probably going to teach, no..?

 

And in CC doing the low-literacy stint is where you discovered that you enjoy teaching English, to bring the joy of XX and YY of literature to curious young minds..?

 

I think it's important in that sort of frame. Not important in a "i need to explain why i went to a CC" sort of way. Never give them reasons not to like you or try to preemptively explain away perceived problems. Let them find and research reasons not to love you on their own free time. Not yours. Use your time to show them "why" you should be there and why you "want" to be there - with a bit of "how" you're going to succeed there thrown in for good measure.

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Also, not sure how it worked with your transcripts, but I believe as long as the grades from the cc are listed on your graduating Uni, you do not need to send them any transcripts (because they have already been verified by your Uni and include grades, there is no point in having to send another copy with the same information).

This depends heavily on the program requirements. Check and make sure. Some programs want all, some want degrees, some want most recent, some want none.

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When i asked about it i was told they want ALL and it's because of accredidation standards. So, ask. It's not a bad thing that you went to CC.

 

Edit: Anyone who thinks it is, is themself a buttclown you don't want to attend the school of - a school who put someone in an admissions position who's that much of an idiot? Forget that noise.

Edited by Loric
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You're going for English.. no? Which would mean you're probably going to teach, no..?

 

And in CC doing the low-literacy stint is where you discovered that you enjoy teaching English, to bring the joy of XX and YY of literature to curious young minds..?

 

I think it's important in that sort of frame. Not important in a "i need to explain why i went to a CC" sort of way. Never give them reasons not to like you or try to preemptively explain away perceived problems. Let them find and research reasons not to love you on their own free time. Not yours. Use your time to show them "why" you should be there and why you "want" to be there - with a bit of "how" you're going to succeed there thrown in for good measure.

 

Ha, yeah, that's more along the lines I was thinking.  My dream (along with so many of you) is to teach at a professorial level.  Even though teaching these low literacy students sometimes made me want to scream, teaching felt exactly what I should be doing.  So there's part of the "after this graduate degree" paragraph.

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  • 1 month later...

Small bump.  Since talking with letter writers, most have been extremely positive (even especially surprised, if they didn't already know / had forgotten) and supportive about my CC experience, and seem to see it as an interesting path in undergrad.  That's alright with me! :D

 

On a side note, transferred grades, as I've come to remember in looking at transcripts, are NOT listed in my final school's transcript: blejalksdfhashhhhheahuh.  Since I went to three different schools, in some cases, I'll need to have all three. 

Edited by repentwalpurgis
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Small bump.  Since talking with letter writers, most have been extremely positive (even especially surprised, if they didn't already know / had forgotten) and supportive about my CC experience, and seem to see it as an interesting path in undergrad.  That's alright with me! :D

 

On a side note, transferred grades, as I've come to remember in looking at transcripts, are NOT listed in my final school's transcript: blejalksdfhashhhhheahuh.  Since I went to three different schools, in some cases, I'll need to have all three. 

 

Yep annoying isn't it?  In my case the 4 year university I went to lists my community college courses and grades, but I still had to order transcripts from every single school.  Apparently grad programs felt having the community college envelope and seal was more important than my interest in saving money when I asked about this lol.

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