Editorial: In Defense of DuPage

Here’s a nice social experiment: the next time a friend or relative asks you where you’re going to college, tell them that you are going to the College of DuPage (COD). Don’t treat it like it’s a joke. Watch their reaction. Hopefully, they greet this newfound news with a great smile, a hug and congratulation for you finally making a decision.

However, too often in the affluent suburbia that is the western suburbs of Chicago, this isn’t the case. Sometimes an announcement of this nature will be met with some hesitation, an awkward silence and a half-hearted, “That’s great.” Or even worse, some more immature audiences, such as friends and fellow students might go as far to ask, “Are you joking?”

It’s a serious problem— one that has to be rectified immediately. Because as you skim through the later pages of these newspaper, quietly judging each graduating senior with the each condescending “I can’t believe she’s going to that school,” or “There is no way he is smart enough to go there!”, know that each and every person you condescend has a story, a financial and personal dimension to their college decision that takes place behind the scenes.

Every person’s college decision is different. Each student has varying levels of intelligence, financial capability and interests. Every college decision should be met with understanding and appreciation, regardless of how shocking it might be. So why then does the school that most of our graduating seniors will choose to attend next fall get treated with the least understanding?

It’s important to remember that despite the fact college is constantly associated with sprawling campuses, college towns and big sports teams, that doesn’t necessarily mean that every college experience has to include those elements. Just because you can live at home and drive to your classes and don’t go to any football games on the weekends doesn’t mean you made the wrong choice.

There is also a fact that somehow gets dismissed among all the joking and teasing: COD is a good school. For many students, this local community college can provide exactly what they need: working toward becoming an engineer or a manager at a local store or anything in between.

COD’s affordability is especially alluring, especially considering the sky-rocketing price of tuition at both private and state schools all across the country. Even our state college, University of Illinois, has costs that may lead many to search for options that are a little less demanding on their wallets. COD costs $140 for each credit hour completed, not to mention that for high-achieving students, COD is willing to make the entire experience free.

The time has come for us to accept COD for what it is: a completely acceptable school to attend. So when you’re flipping through these later pages looking at college decisions, you’ll likely see COD by a name that surprises you. Look at it again, nod and understand that they have made a completely acceptable choice and that behind each and every college decision—COD or not—there is a story.