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Sprinkle: Carroll Community College a source of pride for Carroll County

Tony Chiavacci’s April 22 letter to the editor (“Support Carroll Community College this fall”) to the Carroll County Times brought back fond memories.

In 1975, one of my neighbors and I decided we were going back to school. We found our first opportunity at Black & Decker in Hampstead. The company had contracted with Catonsville Community College for training for its employees, but then later opened the courses to the public. Our college careers began with Introduction to Business (BUA101).

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Thereafter, we took every course B&D offered — fall, spring, summer — until the fall of 1976 when we learned that the Carroll County branch of Catonsville Community College was opening its doors in the old Robert Moton Elementary School. The campus accommodations weren’t fancy, but they were adequate for those of us who wanted a solid education without mortgaging the house to pay the tuition.

I spent only two semesters as a full-time student at the newly-formed precursor to what is now Carroll Community College, but looking back on my college years, I can honestly say those two semesters were filled with teaching excellence second to none.

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One of the reasons may have been that a number of those instructors were part-time — lawyers, accountants, businesspeople — who taught not merely textbook theory, but injected their own on-the-job experiences.

In the fall of 1977, six credits from finishing my associate’s degree, I enrolled as a part-time student at Towson (then “State”) University. With my grade transcript in hand, I hesitantly approached the chair of the English department requesting a seat in a by-permission-only, 300-level course. While permission was enthusiastically granted, I still had a sense of apprehension. Two years of my training had been at a small community college; would I be able to compete at a university level?

By the end of my first day at Towson, I was positive the little start-up community college had given me a solid education. The following semester, when I enrolled as a full-time Towson student, all 63 of my credits had been accepted and transferred.

The community college would come into play once again when my daughter was a senior at North Carroll High School. She needed only two half-year classes to complete the requirements for her high school diploma, so with the help of the community college, we put her “free time” to good use.

The first half of the year, she drove to the high school for two morning classes and then to the community college for two afternoon classes. The second half of the year, she carried 12 credits at the college. By the end of her senior year, she had accumulated 18 college credits and entered the community college in the fall as a full-time student. When she later transferred to Towson University, all of the community college credits transferred.

Once my daughter had moved on to Towson to complete her baccalaureate, I lost track of the community college and its expansion. It wasn’t until years later — after completing my master’s at Western Maryland (now McDaniel), after additional legal studies at Villa Julie (now Stevenson University), after I had re-entered the workforce and began teaching part-time as a member of the adjunct faculty at Towson University — that I returned to where my education began. It was now known as the Carroll Community College, and I was there for business-related certification.

While much of the college had changed, including its amazing new facility, the quality of its instructors had not. All of them were just as solid in their teaching skills as the instructors at the three other colleges I had attended.

The praise that Tony gives Carroll Community College is well deserved. Carroll County can be proud of the excellent opportunity the community college gives, not only for those seeking credits to advance their careers, but also for students planning to transfer to a four-year institution.

Completing core requirements at the community college level not only saves money, but allows the transferring student to focus on the major of his choice as he continues his education. It’s an opportunity well worth investigating.

M.K. Sprinkle writes from Hampstead. Her column appears every other Saturday. Email her at sprinklemk@comcast.net.

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