Exploring the history of Phoenix, Arizona and a little bit of Los Angeles and San Francisco, California.

Turning your life around at Glendale Community College, Arizona


Even though I haven't taught at GCC for years, I have great affection for the school. I taught computer software from 2001 to 2009, and what I got to see was much more than that. I saw people who were turning their life around at a Community College.

I apologize for how cliche it sounds - as if taking some classes at a Community College could "change your life", but I saw it happen. And no, I take no credit for it, I was just talking about Photoshop, or Web Design. And I'm convinced that many people were turning their life around in my tiny corner of Arizona, at GCC.

Glendale Community College in 1965. Yes, it still looks like that, the buildings are the same in the center of the campus, and the historic palm trees (that originally led to Sahuaro Ranch) are there.

Glendale Community College, which has been there since 1965, is on Olive and 59th Avenue in Glendale, Arizona. It began as what was then called a Junior College, as a way for students to make a simpler step from high school to college. I myself availed myself of this, by going to Phoenix College for my first two years before I went to ASU. And believe me, it make a big difference, and I'm grateful to have taken that route. I still recommend it: first two years at a Community College (which is what they're called now) then finish up at a University. It's not only less expensive, it's less overwhelming for young people.

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But something happened to "Junior" colleges over the years. They expanded from their original intention into places that served the community, not just people making the transition from high school to college. And that's why a Community College is so cool, and why I recommend it to people, even if they're well-striken in years (30s, 40s, and beyond). No, it's not a miracle, but it's a place to turn your life around.

I saw a lot of elderly students, well beyond 19. And their situations were as individual as they were. Some were tired of dead-end jobs, some had gone through a divorce, some just wanted to enrich their lives. And they one thing they all had in common is that they didn't realize that they would see so many other people like themselves on campus.

I like GCC, and I go there often, although now I just use the Fitness Center. And yes, it's open to anyone, you pay for it as if it were a class. If you're disabled, like I am, or over 65, and your medical insurance has "Silver Sneakers", you can use it for free.

If you don't know anything about your local community college, I have an assignment for you: Go there. If you go to GCC, the visitor's parking is up close to campus and you can walk around there as much as you want. I recommend visiting the Student Union, maybe grabbing a burger while you're there, or a cup of coffee. I like the hot chocolate! Yes, you'll see a lot of young people, fresh from high school, walking around looking as if they knew what they were doing. But don't be fooled, everyone is dazed and confused, and trying to figure it all out. And a community college is a wonderful place for that, at any age.

See you on campus!