I take offense to the following comment that appeared in Larry Leighton ’56’s June 1 letter: “As to transfers, shouldn’t we look to unhappy talent at such strong places as Berkeley, MIT, etc. rather than community colleges, which many times are more like advanced high schools?”
I have been the head men’s basketball coach at Mercer County Community College for eight years (after 11 years as an assistant coach at Princeton), and am unbelievably impressed with the quality of education available at Mercer and at other community colleges. The idea that a high-achieving Mercer student is not as worthy of admission to Princeton as “unhappy talent ... at ... Berkeley, MIT, etc.” both is untrue and stinks of an elitism that I wish would be less prevalent among Princetonians.
Community colleges offer a wide range of educational options from academic-foundation education to professional programs that lead to actual jobs to honors programs that produce students ready to succeed at the nation’s top universities, many with community-college transfer agreements. Almost half of American undergraduates attend community colleges for any number of reasons. To pigeonhole this essential part of our country’s educational framework as “advanced high schools” is unfair, and I hope the writer and PAW readers will look more closely at the community-college system.