*Articles reflect the views of the author and or those quoted and do not necessarily represent the views of CCBC or The CCBC Connection.
Rosia L Frazier
Gorgeous wooden beach chairs painted in every color dot the Essex Campus. Breathtaking views of the Key Bridge surprise students as they leave the Dundalk Campus. Bright deer eyes peek out of lush green shrubs at Catonsville. Each main campus and its three satellite campuses are unique. Hunt Valley, Owings Mills, and Randallstown are more than pretty office buildings with classrooms and administrative offices. Like Essex, Dundalk, and Catonsville, each possesses a unique student-centric culture which scholars insist is essential to a community college’s success.
Scholars believe that campus culture can be a powerful source of socialization for community college students who spend much less time at school than their 4-year peers. They go on to say that campus culture conditions and restricts development of academic cultures. This means that campus culture is critical to the future of higher education. CCBC clearly received that memo and has done much to support its students.
Students on each campus should be able to find their home away from home at CCBC. Here, equity, diversity, inclusion, and belonging are critical. Students should be supported, because college life is always complicated. Keeping tuition low is another great idea that creates a culture of equity and diversity. Inclusion and belonging are not synonymous, so there must be intentionality to create both. Creating campuses that message a nurturing and community-culture is important to the success of students as well as the success of CCBC.
Food seems to be an essential part of culture for most students and neither campus disappoints. Dundalk campus boasts a self-serve smoothie and shake machine in its cafeteria. Expect long lines! Students can enjoy authentic Starbucks coffees and drinks at Essex and Catonsville. Some campuses boast name-brand restaurants, others house comfort food joints and gluten-free pizza piled high with veggies. Sandwiches of every kind for Halloween and turkey dinners for Thanksgiving are the norm at Dundalk. Students who are not traveling are not forgotten. This creates a culture of belonging.
Safety is another crucial need for each campus. To keep students informed of crime trends, CCBC publishes its crime statistics in compliance with "The Clery Act." This allows students to check the crime statistics at each campus in order to make safe and well-informed decisions. Students should take advantage of all Public Safety offerings such as campus escort services and emergency call boxes. Safety culture creates a welcoming environment to all students.
Prospective and new students should feel at home on the CCBC website. They can find information about dual enrollment, free tuition, gifted and talented studies, all the available scholarships, and all the student services including the Food Access and Food Pantry Lockers. Most of these services help make college attendance possible. Non-traditional students require non-traditional hours to learn and to study. CCBC offers evening, weekend, and online classes. Childcare is another service that eases the life burden for students and makes higher education accessible to all.
This welcoming, inclusive, and thoughtful culture makes the dream of higher education a reality for many. Elizabeth Onafuwa, a dual-enrolled Computer Science major shared, “…love the Dundalk campus. It’s so home-y. I’m familiar with Essex and Catonsville, as well as Owings Mills, but Dundalk is (closer) to my high school.”
Yet, Eliza Bowman, a 2nd year Horticulture major with a certification already prefers to just stay close to where she feels most at home. She doesn’t visit other campuses and doesn’t need to, “…friends say stay away from Essex, the buildings are really big!”
Students have their preferences, and that’s alright at CCBC. There is something for everyone. CCBC boasts at least 30 student organizations and campus life includes theatre, dance, music, and art galleries. Step inside the sliding doors into the foyer of any building and find a community board so full it almost seems alive. Pick up a voice lesson, a tutor, a new job. CCBC and its over-achieving student body has thought of almost everything a student needs to feel included.
With 3 main campuses, 3 satellites, and even classes in various Maryland high schools, it would be normal for a community college to ignore the infinite needs of its student body. While this commentary has in no way shared the plethora of resources (that would require a 14-week session) the purpose is to share and applaud the unique student-centric culture at each campus and how it contributes to the well-being of students as well as CCBC. The beach chairs are as comfortable as they are beautiful!