By Kyle Barr
The first thing they tell you at Suffolk is that eventually you are going to leave.
They tell you that after only two years that you will go off to either the workforce or some other school. You slip through the advising center without any idea of where you’re going or what else to really do but to attend the next class. Theres no mission objective, but some vague line at the end of distant road. A line that, when you finally cross, there’s not much time for reflection.
It is the distance that makes everything seem so pointless. Suffolk is often counted as that distant school, or the easy school, the poor school, the school that the people who couldn’t get into the better schools.
Suffolk is a far away school. It is a distant school. It doesn’t matter how close or far away you live. When you attend Suffolk County Community College the first recognizable distinctive feature is the inherent distance a student feels to it’s grounds, it’s students, its faculty and atmosphere.
Other 4-year schools have one distinctive advantage over Suffolk. They not only have the option of letting you room and board, they allow you access on a constant basis to all it’s activities. Many more students at 4-year room and board colleges do not have jobs, where most in Suffolk do. It is a drive to get into Suffolk, to attend lecture and to do the work.
But the truth is, Suffolk counts as much as you make it count.
It’s distance is it’s advantage. When a student comes to Suffolk, he is coming to it in a certain mindset. Most students are fresh from high school where their experience there has not taught them much at all. It doesn’t matter how much they paid attention in class or how high their grade was. High school was a enclosed system. The outside world was just that, on the outside.
Out of high school, a person has few choices. One is to throw themselves completely in the deep end of the workforce, or go to a more expensive college, where you enter another enclosed system and spend a lot of money doing it.
Suffolk is a medium. It is not perfect, but that distance that is Suffolk’s greatest enemy is also it’s greatest strength. You can invest in Suffolk as much as you wish.
In most other colleges, a years tuition can go into the tens of thousands. When you enter on a major, you either stick with it, or you drop it, and many times effectively waste thousands of dollars.
At Suffolk, you are more than welcome to explore. Some majors are more restrictive than others, but Suffolk is the best opportunity one has to truly explore different subjects. It is not so much about throwing a dart at a dartboard filled with possible jobs and just picking what sticks. A student can take that extraneous class without feeling like one is just wasting money. It allows you the years that were said to only exist in high school where young people can test the waters. See where one wants to be.
That distance allows a student the ability to get experience in both work and school. That distance is the same space that allows you to ask the necessary questions, to ponder what might make you happy in life. The pressures of life from money to relationships are all still there, but compared to other schools, that pressure to stick to a major is not nearly as much present. Good grades are all still important especially for transfer students, but that Liberal Arts degree is not an employable death sentence.
Suffolk hires many Adjunct professors, who essentially amount to part time professors. The requirements for this position are somewhat less exclusive than full-time professors, most need a masters degree in their subject.
Just like any other job, these professors could range from terrible to the most memorable you have. But these professors have a often unseen benefit, the Adjuncts are usually hirees from people in the workforce in jobs that pertain to their subjects. They understand what the job is like, what are the difficulties and what are the benefits.
The distance isn’t an excuse for Suffolk’s problems, the campus isn’t perfect and there is more than one nasty or boring professor. The advising center often shoots you out into the Suffolk environment without a thought to your personal desires or character. But Suffolk isn’t the lazy school. Suffolk is the distant school. You take out what you put in. It allows you to decide what inside makes it all worth the drive.