Last week’s post from Forbes told the story about first-generation college student Insaaf Muhamed’s educational journey from Northern Virginia Community College to UNC-Chapel Hill. Along the way, Muhamed learned about stigma: not every four-year university is willing to accept graduates of community college.

A reader sent me an article about CC stigma, this one focusing on practices on the West Coast,  Though in some people’s eyes, community colleges are not worth much, they do a great job of getting first generation students a college education, and they do it at a remarkably low cost.

At least one thing separates CC grads from many of their fellow graduating seniors: debt. Students who’ve relied on student loans typically graduate still owing an average of over $37,000 in student loans, compared to far, far less debt by CC graduates. That’s a burden they must carry through critical earning years, just when they might also be struggling with car payments, mortgages, etc.

As noted here before, CC grads who transfer to four-year institutions prove to be at least as good as students that were accepted ahead of them when they were high school seniors. The data supports the idea of small classes with teachers more focused on classroom work than on publishing.

Successfully completing community college means something. By that stage of the student’s development, they’ve reached a turning point. They think and act differently than they did before the entered community college.

Surprised that such changed and empowered individuals do a fine job of carrying the banner for their CC once they take their CC degrees to a four-year institution? You shouldn’t be.