JUCO: An alternative path?

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Everyone knows the stories of the undrafted-turned-pro or breakout redshirt senior year but no-one ever talks about the millions of students that take a lesser known route: junior college to traditional four-year university. The opportunity to learn crucial skills both on and off the playing field, in addition to earning a scholarship and making progress towards your degree is invaluable. JUCO allows for an easier transition into the collegiate experience, while still allowing you to play the game you love and chase the degree of your dreams.

Some of the best athletes in professional sport have come from junior colleges in unknown small towns. As a Super Bowl champion and one of the best players in the league, Aaron Rodgers is known for his extraordinary athletic abilities. What many do not know about him however is that he is a junior college attendee, as he enrolled at Butte Community College, in Oroville, California. After an outstanding first season where he threw for 28 touchdowns, the University of California at Berkeley offered him a scholarship, where he later played for two seasons and eventually turned professional. In basketball, Jimmy Butler is arguably the most famous JUCO transfer. Facing many challenges while he grew up, Butler always persevered. Motivated after no significant offers coming out of high school, Butler enrolled at Tyler Junior College in Tyler, Texas. He would dominate that season, averaging a 55% field goal percentage and a nightly 18.1 points per game. He was offered a scholarship by Marquette University and eventually turned professional when he was drafted by the Chicago Bulls. Butler is now an All-Star with the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Of course, these stories of tremendous athletic accomplishments happen very rarely. However, there are millions of people who attend and graduate from community/junior colleges. Famous celebrities have used these institutions to kick-start their career: George Lucas (creator of Star Wars), Steve Jobs (co-founder of Apple) and Tom Hanks (notable actor) have all enrolled in a community or junior college and are quite successful today.
For the millions of students currently attending and the millions who have graduated, their development and eventual success can be attributed to their formidable time at these institutions.