Tom Hanks: ‘Many Lives Will Be Changed’ By Free Community College

Actor Tom Hanks is apparently a big fan of community college — especially since he used to be a student at one.

In an article published by the New York Times on Wednesday, Hanks shared his opinion on President Obama’s hopes to allow community college to become free for up to 9 million Americans.

“High school graduates without the finances for a higher education can postpone taking on big loans and maybe luck into the class that will redefine their life’s work. Many lives will be changed.”

Using himself as an example, Hanks used the article to reflect on the days that he spent at Chabot College in the 1970s.

The two-time Oscar winner admits that he did not have any money for tuition and “lousy SAT scores,” which is why he enrolled in the school after graduating from high school in 1974.

Tom Hanks remembers his time spent back at Chabot College as being “all free but for the effort and the cost of used textbooks.”

The Cast Away actor also mentions the type of students that he was able to call his classmates.

“Classmates included veterans back from Vietnam, women of every marital and maternal status returning to school, middle-aged men wanting to improve their employment prospects and paychecks.”

Hanks admits that he did not like all of his classes; the actor dropped astronomy because of the vast amount of math involved. However, he wrote nothing but good things about his public speaking class and the two reasons why it was unforgettable.

  1. It forced him to overcome his own self-consciousness.
  2. One of his classmates was a beautiful flight attendant studying communications that allowed him to ride with her to school when his car needed repairs.

Tom Hanks admits that he was still able to enjoy many of the “pleasures” enjoyed by the students that attended the schools he could not afford — including looking at girls and eating French fries while goofing off between classes.

Perhaps the words that he uses to close the article are the most profound and truly explain why he feels so strongly about community college in general.

“I drove past the [Chabot College] campus a few years ago with one of my kids and summed up my two years there this way: ‘That place made me what I am today.'”

From an educational standpoint, Tom used his time at Chabot College as a stepping stone, which led him to transferring to California State University after two years. The actor continued his studies of theater at that higher learning institution.

Years later, Tom is known for an extensive resume filled with small-screen and big-screen roles — including his Oscar-winning performances in Forrest Gump and Philadelphia.

The fact that Tom Hanks credits the years that he spent at a community college with making him the man that he is today truly speaks volumes.

[Image Credit: NPR]