Friday Fragments | Confessions of a Community College Dean
Friday Fragments | Confessions of a Community College Dean

I got an email from a reader this week that raised an issue I hadn’t considered.

(A quick word of apology to readers who’ve written in the last week or two and haven’t received responses yet.)

He asked if the prospect of free community college might be temporarily depressing enrollments. Alternately, if the proposal takes a while, it might temporarily depress enrollments. The idea is that a student might choose free college next year over paying tuition for college this year.

I very much doubt that it had any effect on enrollments this spring. The timing doesn’t work; spring registrations mostly happened in November and December. For a while there, it didn’t seem like a sure thing that we’d even have a peaceful transition of power. (In a sense, we didn’t.)

For the fall, it’s slightly more plausible. But my sense is that many community college students and prospective students have developed a pretty healthy skepticism of political saviors. Put differently, I don’t think most will believe it until they see it. And since it appears that Biden’s proposal will run through the states, it could be some time before anything actually manifests on the ground.

That said, I’ve been wrong before. Wise and worldly readers, what do you think?

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After a week of hair issues, manicures, makeovers, dress issues, mask selection (gold glitter on a black background) and a frantic but successful search for five-inch heels (!) so the dress wouldn’t drag, The Girl pronounced the prom … fine. It was fine.

The highlight of the night was the pre-prom get-together. The parents of one of the kids in the friend group hosted a combination lawn party and photo shoot, so we could get pictures of all of the kids in their finery. The boys wore tux jackets with straight ties. They weren’t especially into posing -- it’s hard to be too cool for school while indulging parents -- but I discovered a heretofore latent talent for getting very serious teenage boys to smirk while posing. (“OK, but this time, less like a political prisoner.”) Later, The Girl showed me the commentary in their group chat under one picture of an especially serious boy. (“He looks like he’s about to tear down some affordable housing.”) In nearly every case, it was the first time I had seen them in shirts with collars.

The girls were better sports about posing, which sped things up a bit. They had been in communication for weeks about their dresses, so there was no issue of color duplication. I was a little surprised in the group shots to see TG towering over everybody, but when you take a girl who’s already 5'8" and put her in five-inch heels, well, the math is what the math is.

The venue was open-air, for obvious reasons, and it was a chilly day. Several of the other girls brought shawls or sweaters to keep warm. TG went a different way. We got one particularly great photo of her from the side, in her red dress and black leather motorcycle jacket, shooting lethal side-eye at the camera. If she ever records an album, that’s the cover.

Apparently, the actual prom fell a bit flat. By TG’s telling, the music was as loud as if there were a dance floor, but there wasn’t a dance floor, so they just sat at their tables and tried to yell hard enough to hear each other. Eventually -- I’m guessing out of desperation -- they started singing along, which is something. I would have expected some sort of organized activity, but it was not to be.

Even with that, though, she seemed genuinely glad she had gone. It was a night to dress up and be silly with her friends. There wasn’t a pair of sweatpants to be seen. It was a rite of passage in a time when so many have been suspended. They needed that.



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