IL Community Colleges

Happy Almost Friday everyone…

Any one here living in IL? Any ideas on “better” community colleges for prereq’s? I was looking at Oakton and Malcom X, but if anyone feels that these are just terrible or if you have better suggestions let me know!


Hi Seth,

I live in the Western 'burbs of Chicago, and did a post-bac at Dominican University in River Forest. I don’t know a lot about the community colleges around here, but I had a friend who took physics at Oakton and seemed to really like it.

Just throwing this out there - have you looked into any 4-year schools in the area? I know they’re considerably more expensive, but I don’t think UIC is terrible if you qualify for in-state tuition. Just a thought.

I think I mentioned before that I am in IL and took my first two classes at Truman. I really enjoyed the Bio class.

My understanding is that the CCCs are connected (you can take classes at multiple campuses ect:) so in theory they are much the same… With that being said I know that Truman has a lot of nursing students and I heard people say that the science prof’s there were better…

UIC has a lot of really nice people in their admissions office I have spoken with them multiple times and always received good advice.

Harper College in Palatine is a very good CC. Excellent Chem facilities!

As for 4-yr Universities, I would recommend Northern for Bio and Chem and Northeastern for Physics.


I did all my prereqs at Oakton and I really liked it.

There is really good teacher for organic chem during summer - U can take 5 weeks part one and 5 weeks part two . He teaches at Loyola during school year and summer at Oakton , really recommend him but I forgot his name. Also there are few that I would avoid if U want to keep Ur grades up. PM if U need more info.

U can even take one semester of biochem.

Northeastern has some great professors and some absolutely horrible one.

Dr. Ken Nicholson in the Chem department is absolutely fantastic as is Dr. Ana Fraiman.

However, I disagree with one of the other posters. The Physics at Northeastern is absolute crap. The professors really need to retire and don’t explain things well. In addition, the one I have now for Physics II is just horrible. He doesn’t actually grade tests fully and if you write something down will give you 100%. I have learned NOTHING from him and everything from my friend who has a Masters degree in Physics. I am in a horrible position to take the MCAT despite my nearly constant studying of Physics I and II.

Dr. Jan Mataka in the Chemistry department is also awful and I’ve heard of many others who are too.

The small class size is nice, but if the teachers are incompetent, you’ll quickly find out how little you learned when you start studying for the MCAT. For reference, I started off at a 20 and my highest score has been a 25. Pretty pathetic considering I got nearly straight As at Northeastern.

I had truly excellent experiences at both Wright and Truman. The unions are very strong in Chicago so Science professors at community college actually make similar money to many professors at Northwestern and UofC.

I had one professor that had an MD/PhD from Northwestern and years of experience as a radiation oncologist teaching Biology 101 at Truman. I afterwards went to Northwestern and Harvard and he was as good as any professor I had there.

Thanks everyone!

I actually dont question the quality of the teachers at any of those schools. The reality is, many of the same teachers at the 4yr universities also moonlight at the jr colleges–when I looked up one teacher at Northwestern, he was using exactly the same curriculum that he was for one of the city colleges!

My question is; of the city schools, will any be “viewed” as worse than the other? I know the overwhelming preference seems to be for suburban schools but I need to cost minded so I’d like to stay in the city (or in “district” as they put it). Plus I know some people mentioned NE and UIC but those schools are waaaaaaay too expensive out of pocket.

Does anyone have overwhelming thoughts or recieved any feedback on Harold Washington or Wright? (I know a few people mentioned they really liked Truman)

I think if you are narrowing it down to only the schools in the city then you might just want to pick the school that will be the easiest to get to…

I took a class at HW that I had to drop when I got a new job and then retook the class along with my Bio 1 at Truman.

Personally I preferred Truman…although HW was much closer to me. HOWEVER I think the fact that I tok the classes at Truman in the evening when the people in them were also older and not fooling around made a difference to me. (when I started at HW it was a midday class…hence why I had to drop when I picked up a 9-5 job)

At Truman in the evening Bio class were a lot of people who were career changers going back to school for nursing. I was able to find people who wanted to study with me and the discussions in class were very intelligent.

Overall I just liked the environment there better.

That being said… I have no idea if a med school would look at one CCC better than any other…my guess is that they wouldn’t. The advantage to the CCC system is that once you are registered with them you can take classes anywhere so you could start with the place closest to you and see if you like it…if not you can try one of the others.

I think if you are planning on completing all of your pre recs at the CCC’s then the most important thing to keep in mind is that you will need LOR’s from the science professors so you will need to build a good relationship with them ( go to office hours!!!) Perhaps if you are concerned you could sit in on a chem or bio class at the schools that you are considering and then see if the Prof would be willing to chat with you after class?

As far as the quality of teaching I agree with you and everyone else…All 3 of the teachers I had were highly qualified and had doctorates in their subjects. I think the difference in the CCC vs a 4 year university in the city is often the expectations they have for their students. At the university all of the kids in my classes are “pre med” and every teacher expects a lot (and is used to writing LOR’s) It might be a bit more work for you to rise against the “norm” but I think your education will be sound

Good Luck!

I only took 1 class at Wright but it was great. PhD Chemist who was really passionate about teaching out of UC taught it.

I personally did great on the MCAT and got ~100% in all my cc classes. I did less well at NU and Harvard and didn’t get accepted into many med schools where my MCAT was above average. In the back of my mind I’ll always be kinda curious what would have happened if I just got a 4.0 from community college (though I’m beyond excited to know that barring an act of God I’m going to be a Dr). I know UIC explicitly says they won’t hold going to cc against you. NU and UC probably will I’d guess. My advice is go for it.