Oklahoma City Community College, a junior college whose philosophy is the sole purpose of student success, and has been since 1972, is thriving.
As of 2018, over 12,000 students are enrolled at OCCC.
OCCC has a graduation rate of around 10%, but a small graduation rate does not mean low student success.
Some who do not graduate from OCCC also transfer to a university or are in the concurrent program.
Jesse Brewster was a high school student who enrolled in the concurrent program as a junior and earned 39 credit hours as a concurrent student through his senior year.
Brewster said OCCC was successful in giving him college experience as a high school student.
“Absolutely. I think OCCC did a great job of showing me the ropes and teaching me how to enroll and teaching me how to contact professors and email and go to labs and all of these things. I feel like it did a great job of prepping me for actual college,” Brewster said.
Since he had a good experience as a OCCC student, it was asked why he had not stayed and finished out his associates.
“Well, part of it was restlessness and me wanting to move out of my house and out of the city and go somewhere else. I think if I would have gone to OCCC, I would have been stuck here for another couple years. Also scholarship opportunities that I probably wouldn’t get if I stayed another couple years at OCCC. I think that finishing your associates at a community college is always a great decision,” he said.
Brewster transferred to Oklahoma State University after graduating from high school.
With a full year almost completed, he has finished enough hours to have achieved the equivalent of an associate’s degree, thanks to OCCC concurrent.
He has no regrets, but like many people, OCCC’s low costs always cause people to think twice about transferring.
“Financially, I think it would have been a bit more helpful if I would have just finished at OCCC and taken a couple years to work but other than that, I think it was super beneficial for me to go straight to a four-year university after taking concurrent classes.”
According to OCCC Admissions, it is becoming more common now for college freshmen to attend community colleges at the start of their college career.
In 2012, Dakota Gennings was starting college, and it was not very common for students to first attend community colleges.
“At the time, it was not as common for people to go get their associates. It has become much more popular since I’ve got my bachelor’s and it’s a much smarter way of doing it for sure. I only knew of one person at OU that went and got their associates at a community college before going to a four-year university. Now, I know that number has gone up substantially but in my case that just wasn’t the norm,” Gennings said.
Gennings did take a class at OCCC over the summer, and it had a positive impact on him in regards to the environment.
“It definitely appeared that the professors cared more. They were much more responsive than some of the professors we had at OU in our general education courses. My chem class at OU was over 300 students. My classes I took at OCCC were twenty to thirty, much like high school. Your professor knew who you were and knew what was going on if something came up. It was just a much better learning experience in that class that I took,” he said.
With a 23 to 1 student to faculty ratio, his description of classes at OCCC is accurate.
The college provides professors, advisors and faculty who work to create a top-level learning environment for every student.
In addition to the smaller classes, Gennings also wishes he had attended a community college because of the lower cost.
“For my time at OU, I acquired a significant amount of student debt because that’s just kind of how it is unless you achieve certain scores on the ACT or be able to be supported by your parents more in college. It was really student loans. I could have saved a substantial amount of money by going to OCCC, getting my associates. They have a pre-engineering degree there that I could have gotten but it’s not how I did it but it’s definitely how I would recommend it to people who are now going to get an engineering degree. Go to OCCC or a community college to get it. It saves a lot of money,” he said.
According to the Oklahoma Historical Society, OCCC was the fifth-largest higher education institution in the state and served more than 28,000 people each year at the turn of the twenty-first century.
Since the opening of the college on September 25, 1972, with 1,049 students enrolled, OCCC has only continued to expand.
Whether a student attends for two years or for one class, OCCC leaves a lasting impact on everyone who walks its halls.