Millbrook grads grade DCC
Three out of the four Millbrook High grads contacted by TMI were generally pleased with Dutchess Community College. Two of these grads reside in the dormitory at DCC. They are also employed by the residence hall.
The four students contacted were Angelika Juerss, Amy Muñoz, Katie Navarro and Mary Richwine. Angelika, Amy and Mary were generally pleased with DCC’s academics and activities. Angelika is a freshman and works as a front desk assistant in Conklin Hall, the new residence hall at DCC. It is named after the college’s president, David Conklin. Mary is an RA (Resident Assistant) in the residence hall, overseeing a floor of residents. Amy commutes and will be graduating after this semester.
Navarro expressed her dissatisfaction with the college, saying that, “no one has any answers when you ask for help.” She said she is transferring. She declined a further interview.
Angelika said she chose DCC for several reasons. She has moved many times throughout her life but has never before been separated from her twin sister. Both girls live in the dorms, but this semester, they live in different suites. Angelika said that going to DCC was a first small step for her in separating from her sister and learning to do things on her own. She was also offered a full scholarship, including housing, to attend the community college.
“You work hard, and if there’s an opportunity to take advantage of it, why not take it?” Angelika said.
Angelika said going to a small school like Dutchess prepares her to attend a larger university, something she was not ready for right out of high school. She said she is happy with her decision to live in the dorm despite being able to commute. She has learned life skills and has been able to get more involved in school activities. She said the college is welcoming, and she has met a lot of people by living in the dorm. If you’re sitting alone, she explained, someone will come and sit next to you. She thinks that having a job on campus and being a part of the community-service committee and student government gets her involved.
One issue with the dorm that Angelika notes is the noise level. When she’s studying in her room, she tends to put music on to drown out the noise. On weekends there are places she can go when the dorm gets too noisy to study. In discussions about DCC’s requests to the county legislature for funding, county legislators mentioned reports of drinking and drugs. DCC is supposed to be a “dry” campus, since most of its full-time students are under age.
“When people think of dorms, they do think of partying,” Angelika said. “This is a dry campus. When people try to drink, Security puts a stop to it.”
Angelika went on to say that she was offered a chance to drink, but she doesn’t go to those parties because she’s at DCC to study. She said people have to choose whether they are in college to drink or to study.
As an RA, Mary hasn’t seen any drinking or drug activity among the residents she is responsible for. In her training she was prepared for crisis management, but, she said, she has been lucky not to encounter any problems. She believes people off-campus are saying things that are not true about things that happen on-campus.
“People like to gossip,” Mary said. “I have found no validity in it.”
Mary started DCC two days after she graduated from high school. When she first started, she didn’t think the community college would be able to prepare her for her future academic work . In high school she had taken AP and honors classes. But she has been pleasantly surprised by academics at DCC. Mary said her time at DCC has helped her decide what she wants to major in after she transfers to a four-year college. She is hoping to get into SUNY Binghamton. She has decided on psychology after taking a class in that subject with an inspirational professor.
A big factor for Mary in choosing DCC was its affordability. She was nervous about being in debt when she was still unsure about a career. She didn’t want to be $40,000 in the hole, like other kids who have gone away to college right out of high school. Her top college choice out of high school was SUNY Cortland, but she remembers doing a 180- degree turn when she saw how big the campus was. She decided it would be better to take a baby step first and figure out where she wanted to be. Almost two years after that change of heart, Mary said she is ready to take the plunge and attend a big university after graduating from DCC.
Mary cited reasons similar to Angelika’s for liking the dorm at DCC. She has been able to get more involved in college life. She plays for the volleyball team, is president of the psychology club and is part of student government. She likes having people from different high schools in the same residence hall. She said her least favorite thing about DCC is that the college doesn’t have a football team, and she wants to see the college develop a bigger athletic program. The good news for Mary is that all of her credits will transfer from DCC to Binghamton if she is accepted.
Amy is a commuter. She lives in the Village of Millbrook. She, too, graduates this May, and she has applied to four of the SUNY colleges. She wants to major in psychology. Amy was only 17 when she graduated from Millbrook High, and she wasn’t ready to go away to school. She said some of the classes at DCC were “pretty easy.” She knows kids make fun of DCC, calling it the “13th grade,” but she said she has had some challenging classes that have helped her decide on what she wants to do. She enjoys the small-class environment, in which professors are able to give her one-on-one attention, something she might not receive when she transfers to a large university.
“I had no idea what I wanted to do [when I started DCC],” Amy said. “Dutchess helped me through a lot.”
Amy has heard some negative things about the dorm from students who live there. She said the dorm is very strict, and she has heard it is boring. She said students have told her they don’t like living in the dorm. Unlike other schools, which don’t regulate daytime guests, DCC only allows a residence-hall student one guest at a time. In fact, when I tried to enter the residence hall as a reporter, I immediately encountered Security and was asked to leave. Amy said the dorm is probably so strict because in the first year of having one, the school wants to establish a good residence-hall reputation. So far students have been expelled from the residence hall after breaking rules about drinking and drugs.
Last week, we reported on what others have said about the dorm at DCC. The most we can say at this point is that the satisfaction level with the dorm appears to vary among the students.