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The College Scam

My expedience as a New Jersey College student attending a local community college in (high) hopes to transfer seamlessly to a 4 years university.

People always joke about how community college is not a real school, and popular TV shows, such as community enforce that mindset.  In New Jersey, a law was passed where all credits earned in New Jersey must transfer to all colleges within the state, assuming the college your trying to transfer too offers the same course. Thats not exactly true anymore, but thats not BCC’s fault, as much as I’d like to blame them. Because of this law, many students choose to get their first two years of college out of the way at the should-be-cheaper community college, in this case Burlington County College. I choose it for the money and ability to work at a flexible schedule while going to school. I made a mistake.

From the start BCC seemed inadequate to suite their large student population, or customer population, as they prefer to call us. They’re student population has grown tremendously due to everyones misguided deluded belief that is is a cheap alternative to a university. From the always filled parking lot, to the often large class sizes, sometimes with more students then there are [Working] computers in the room and IT staff who are, lets just say sometimes less than capable. They also have a huge waiting list for many programs such as nursing, where, the program itself is supposed to be like4 years, and you could easily spend 2 to 4 years on a waiting list to get into it. Now that is 6 to 8 years, at community college…if you had the option of going to a real college or university, you could have your masters by then. Not to mention the college has been cutting classes for the past 2 years, including a lot of classes for in demand careers, like the Linux administrators class, and most recently the Cisco class.  (I know they’ve cut other non technical classes too but I couldn’t tell you which ones. ) But they have added some classes too, most recently some HIT (health information technology) in which they have partnerships with local hospitals, for what, I don’t know.

The wait for my first schedule was almost 4 hours, which I’m told is pretty low.  After getting to speak with a counselor, I was flat out lied to, twice, once about a course I wanted to test out of (and easily could have) and again about how many classes are needed to graduate in two years. Taking one remedial course, and 3 others gave me 10 credits, where to graduate in 2 years without giving up your summers, you need 16. thats 4 classes and a lab every semester for 4 semesters, assuming you don’t need remedial classes, that the classes you need run when you need them to, or anything else to delay transfer to a real college.  I lived through that but was not happy when I realized the easy workload that semester meant giving up a summer (one top of the one summer your expected to give up anyway).

The next semester I registered online. Late. It was the only way I got into the classes I wanted to, was to be on a waiting list, and when payday came around and people who hadn’t paid got automatically dropped from the classes, I got in. It worked and was worth the small late fee, but I felt cheated because the school had closed some classes even before registration had started, opening them up after the date to pay. Cheapskates. I’ve pulled this trick every semester since, and while the money adds up, the better classes seem to be worth the price. They did the same thing with summer, closed a course, and only opened it up after the paydate. A class I would not have been able to take otherwise then became and option and even was my favorite class at BCC.

We registered my brother on time, his schedule is shit. After the date to pay, the classes we wanted him in all opened up. 5 of them. We’ll be paying two late fees next semester.

Summer is an entirely different fresh hell at BCC. The brightside is there’s actually parking spaces, and pretty good ones at that, and the classes were decently sized. The downside is every single class is 4 hours and 10 minutes long. They’re also only 5 weeks long, but the course catalog (WebAdvisor, a truly vile piece of antiquated software)  shows them as if they were 15 weeks.  Class selection is quite shitty for a school that expects all students to go through at least two summer classes, and the office hours and open times for registration for fall (Which would be done during the summer), as well as the bookstores, are limited, or none.

Working technology is another rarity around these campuses, among the others, being, brains, common sense, and a general concern for the people they were put there to serve.

BCC also uses blackboard a piece of java software to horrible it could not legally be shown in a rated PG13 movie. But you can find your own gazillion cases about how bad that sucks. To make it worse for BCC, its an outdated version of blackboard.

BCC’s website is, for a long time they were advertising it as on billboards. Unless you used firefox, which would assume you wanted the www, would not ever load. It was never set up. I sent an email to an administrator last year and that actually got fixed. Now they won’t look as retarded as they are.

Webadvisor is their other piece of bloated serverware, which houses grades, schedules, and almost everything else including registration for classes and payment. Its slow, its ancient, its not up to date, the course schedule are often wrong, misfiled, or lacking info, especially about the books, which, providing the ISBN number is now required by law.  Who wants to sue them first?

Fun little story about that steaming pile of  cow manure they call WebAdvisor. I registered for classed on it, the day for payment came due. We called the business office, gave them the card number and paid. Webadvisor was down that day.  They took our money,  credit statement proves it. The next day, I was dropped from the course automatically for failure to pay by the due date, and was never notified. After a week attending the class, I found out I was not in it, and had to register, get a note saying I had been attending class, pay for the class again (Which they had refunded a week into the class, a month after we had paid originally), and was charged a late fee on top of it all. I should have fought them on the late fee, it was their own fault, but I let it go, happy to just have been placed in the class to begin with.

And now to defunct the biggest reason for going to community college: to save money. I highly doubt it saved me a cent, and I’d be willing to bet, it cost my money.

Tuition was around $9000, for 4 semesters (that’s right 4 in one year, 2 summer, spring, and fall). Books were almost 2000, because a lot of them were unique to BCC. Now I sold a few back to BCC for next to nothing, basically lunch money, sold some online, and gave some away to friends and my brother. Wasted money on all but maybe three textbooks (Adobe classroom in a book). Some classes we didn’t even use them. I’ve started to buy them on amazon, and forget anything special BCC does to them. I may be short sometimes, but the money I save is worth it. Its not easy to get the book, because they don’t post much info online, but with recent laws, they should have to do it soon. We’re also nearing $500 in additional supplies for art classes and alike, but thats only been this (2nd) fall semester.

Then there’s driving, which added, as a low estimate, 15,000 miles to my car, cost me roughly $1500 in gas (For school alone, not counting work, long trips out, etc), a few grand in repairs to the car, at least some of them probably related to the fairly heavy wear and tear during this last year, lets say $1200 in wear and tear repairs like tires, brakes, etc (again, rough estimate), and I’m sure the value of the car is down quite a lot too, but that would happen anyway to a point. And another big cost is food/snacks. I probably eat out more than most people, but when you have work in the morning, 2 or 3 classes in the afternoon and night, and you’re gone about 14 hours a day, you’ve got to eat at least two meals out.  My estimate for that has been about $1500, where as a real college with meal tickets, could be less.

In all, BCC has cost me roughly $16000 for one year, which earned me 39 credits, and 3 classes fail/dropped/no credits earned.  64 credits graduates usually.  Rowan University, a close by well respected university is ~$10, 500, for a year, I think thats not including room board and food, but even if you commuted, it would be a lot less driving than several trips a day to BCC, and several campuses. To me, from my experience with BCC, Rowan would’ve been a better deal. Even if the price turns out to be a few thousand cheaper for BCC, it would be worth it, to not deal with their headaches, and paying for credits that would actually be taken in other universities, unlike almost every class I’m taking now.

[Please do not critique the numbers too much, they are just rough estimates, some low some high]

Now this is not BCC’s fault exactly, but they do share some of the blame.

Other colleges in the state, who are required to take credits from BCC and every other college, have been recently rejecting many of BCC credits. Since they can’t argue the credits are worthless, they will let you transfer them as electives or as partial credits, saying they will not take them as full course credits because BCC does not require the same amounts of class time. Lets say BCC has a class two days a week 1 hour and 50 minutes each time, and TCNJ has the class once a week, for 4 or 5 hours. They might reject your credits, or devalue them, because BCC requires more lab time then class time. Its not exactly BCC’s fault, although it does seem they have shorter classes lately, but these other schools should just suck it up and deal with it.

I will have 52 credits at the end of this semester.  I failed or withdrew from 3 classes, 2 of which were not worth credits. Assuming I had earned those credits, 3 classes at 3 credits each on top of the 52 I will have at the end of fall 2010, thats 61, one class (3 credits) shy of the 64 needed to graduate. That is taking 4 or 5 classes year round from fall until the next fall, including both very short summer semesters. So it would be possible to graduate in 2 years, if your willing to give up an entire summer to do so, and really, you can’t work and go to class that much either.

Now of those 52 credits, Rowan university would only give me at best 37 credits. Thats taking a lot of classes at one credit each, and some 4 credit labs as only 3 credits. Rutgers will give me more, but its not as direct a transfer, so Its hard to be sure.

Books: Everyone knows schools jack up the prices. Heres the truth. Its Grayed out, so you can skip it if you don’t care.

Most of the time a previous edition of the book will work just find.  If they want the 8th edition, the 7th will usually work. Weight the savings vs the age, I use a simple formula. For a used book, I want $20-25off per previous edition. For a $100 new book, 8th edition, I will pay no more than $75 for the 7th Edition, assuming the $100 is the best price around. 6th edition, $50 tops.

Use the internet to buy books. No Brainer right…Amazon, big words, ebay all sell books. rents books. Rentals are usually a rip off. If your willing to risk the investment, buy the book new, and sell it. If you sell it at 70% of its value, it will sell fast and your not paying a whole lot for a semester or 2 of us. Remember to consider shipping and cuts from amazon and others.

Trade with your friends. If you have friends who are in the same major, or even something else, you can often trade books with them. If your not in the same major, you can still trade general education books, like English, science, and all those fun 101 books, like psychology and sociology, that almost everyone has to take. You can get 2 or 3 years of use out of a book usually, and even it its only good for a year, you can trade with a friend so it gets the full year or use, you don’t have to sell it and no one pays the extortion prices set up the school bookstore.

Never buy the books before the class unless you know you will need then. Math you will always need the books, buy them. English too. Graphic design, psychology and other intro classes you may not need it, wait until the 2nd day of class to buy them. Save yourself a lot of money this way. If it turns out you need them later, the school often has copies in the library you can make copies of, or you can find digital editions online.

Also a new law was pasted were textbooks must be sold without a CD/DVD (unless they give it to you for free), the CD/DVD must be for sale alone (if it says complete book on there, you can sometimes buy the CD alone for 10% of the books’r price), and the schools must provide the ISBN number for all books.

If you’ve made it this far, you see why I took the time to write this 2500 word rant on how bad BCC and the entire college system is. I’ve been trying to spare my friends from making the same mistake as I did, or if they have to go to community college, how to navigate your way through the pill of bullshit called the college system as well the wretched lies that have been forced down our throats by those money hungry capitalist fucks and the Grand State of New Jersey. (Where the fuck is a tag when we need one)  Do your research before saying yes to anything, plan your classes out as far ahead as you can, and find someone who knows what the fuck their doing.  I have one really amazing teacher who knows what transfers, what you need to graduate, how to work the system and its great, but the people who register you and the consolers are usually half-witted imbecilic cretins.


About Alpha1beta

College Student & Web Designer. Gorram Geeky Sarcastic BrownCoat!, Droid rights activist, and professional code monkey.

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