By Dr. T.M. Sell
A couple of years ago, I was at a summer advising workshop. We do that a lot at Highline — try to find ways to be better teachers for our students.
We were asked, as part of the workshop, to think about what barriers we faced in going to college.
I thought briefly and could reach only one conclusion: None.
I knew I was going to college from the time I was 5 years old. My father, on his way to becoming a college professor, was going to college, and I knew that was what I was going to do. And I knew that was what I could do and would do.
It was what was expected. I never had a moment of doubt that I belonged or that I could succeed.
My first day of college was one of the best days of my life. The professor got up in my very first class and started talking, and I thought, “Thank God. We’re actually going to learn something.”
And, in fact, going to Renton High School had prepared me well for college. The teachers were encouraged to teach, to do whatever it was that they did best.
The classes were not stratified into “smart kids” and “other kids.” For the most part, we were all lumped together. The smart kids helped the other kids along, and we all learned something in the process.
When I started at Highline in January of 1976 (because, as my father, by then a Highline professor, said, “No son of mine is going to Green River”), tuition was around $100 a quarter. In current dollars, that’s about $350. Students could get part-time jobs, pay for their tuition and books and graduate with four-year degrees without any debt.
But the lack of barriers I encountered is not what students face today. …