Monday, September 15, 2008

Community Colleges at the Crossroad

USA Today featured community colleges in a very large article this summer entitled "U.S. community colleges at a 'turning point'."

"Community colleges train 80% of the country's police officers, firefighters and emergency medical technicians and more than half of its new nurses and health care workers. They are the go-to destinations for displaced workers and immigrants seeking language and cultural skills. Community colleges are where people most often go when they need to brush up on math or English before pursuing a college degree. And they have become increasingly attractive to families who can't afford to send their kids to a four-year school."

Unfortunately, they face their problems. Although "community colleges enroll 6.5 million degree-seeking students, or nearly half (47%) of all college undergraduates" and "for the last decade, enrollments have been increasing faster at two-year schools than four-year schools," "In 2000-2001, . . . the nation spent $140 billion on four-year public universities and just under $30 billion for public two-year colleges."

While there are countless success stories of community college students, including the famous author Amy Tan, the overall success rate is still grim: " . . . many of those who attend community college are far less successful. In the first six years after enrolling in a community college, only 36% of students earn a certificate or an associate's or bachelor's degree . . . And just 51% of freshmen attending two-year institutions return for sophomore year, compared with a 69% national average for all public and private higher education institutions."

To read the entire article and linked stories click on the live link above.

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