Last week President Barack Obama proposed his plan to help make community college tuition-free for millions of prospective students, hopefully enabling many Americans to access tertiary education who otherwise might not have been able to. While the plan is ambitious, and costly, it has the full backing Hollywood heavyweight, Tom Hanks, who took to the New York Times to write about how community college helped shape him into the person he is today.
While Hanks might be a multi-million dollar actor these days (he is reportedly worth somewhere in the region of $350million), back in 1974 when he was sending out his college applications he knew that although he would have liked to attend the likes of M.I.T or Villanova, his grades and lack of cash were working against him. Instead, Hanks spent two years at Chabot community college in California.
He explains that he and his fellow students, people from all walks of life, studied at Chabot to gain their general education credits before transferring to a State University (in Hanks case, Sacramento State). But aside from just getting the necessary requirements, Hanks credits Chabot with helping him through his career as an actor, writing:
Classes I took at Chabot have rippled through my professional pond. I produced the HBO mini-series “John Adams” with an outline format I learned from a pipe-smoking historian, James Coovelis, whose lectures were riveting. Mary Lou Fitzgerald’s Studies in Shakespeare taught me how the five-act structures of “Richard III,” “The Tempest” and “Othello” focused their themes.
Hank's said that he recently drove past the campus with one of his children and simple summed up his two year experience at Chabot by saying "That place made me what I am today."