Career Column: Discouraged by associate’s degree classes

by Rona Sisson
Posted 12/4/20

I am writing about your advice regarding the fact that I dropped out of community college in the general studies program (pre-Covid last fall) since, in my mind, I really have no idea what I wanted …

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Career Column: Discouraged by associate’s degree classes

Posted

I am writing about your advice regarding the fact that I dropped out of community college in the general studies program (pre-Covid last fall) since, in my mind, I really have no idea what I wanted to ‘do’ with the associate’s degree (or any degree!). What happened was, in one of my classes (I didn’t start it on time for a long list of reasons, I had to join two weeks late), the other students were all ‘getting it’ while I wasn’t: understanding the teacher’s assignments, his pronunciations, homework. It was a Spanish class. I have some side gigs and Spanish would be great for me to know. I ended up dropping the class and really it was discouraging because, in the end, I just decided to stop all the courses. Before I dropped out, I tried to call the teacher and he said just come to class and that he couldn’t assist me outside of class much. It was so discouraging and made me feel like the whole thing was a waste of time and money. What do you think I should do now?

First, I am sorry to hear that you had what sounds like a difficult time in your course at the community college. Community colleges across the US are crucial to our educational system, providing programs for students of all ages who have decided to not enroll in four-year public or private non-profit colleges. According to a recent story in the Wall Street Journal, enrollment for first-year community college students plummeted almost 20% this fall due to Covid, and it will be a huge loss to our economy to not have students pursuing the certificate programs and degrees that community colleges provide.

It sounds like you had already decided in the short term it wasn’t a fit: I do advise you to reconsider and absolutely don’t give up on your courses toward an associate’s degree (or beyond)! Your whole life you will encounter challenges; some you can control, some you simply do your best, and/or, in the case of this Spanish class, you move on. The challenges you describe are not insurmountable. Depending on what you choose to do for your career, you will need a foundation that would include the courses which a general studies curriculum provides –  all will help you on your path.

Your question notes that you feel like the Spanish language skills would be a big benefit to your current work, and it was something you really wanted to learn? I advise you to continue to make an effort as best you can, financially of course. Programs for now are mostly blended in person/online learning for many colleges, which may work for your schedule. If not, set yourself a date to decide your next steps regarding returning to college.

Also, remember to look at life’s setbacks as learning lessons (remember, if signing up for a course make sure you can start it on time, as an example). Find supportive friends and family to talk to when things get hard. Just don’t give up. ¡No se rinda cuando es difícil! Best, RS

Rona Sisson is an attorney and also Executive Director with Mestel & Co., a legal recruiting firm with offices nationwide. You may email her your questions at ronasisson@gmail.com for the CHCC.

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