Free Tuition Could Come to a Community College Near You

It’s no secret that Americans are lagging behind other industrialized nations in terms of attaining a post-secondary degree. Losing the brain battle is concerning in and of itself, however, many politicians are also concerned about a workforce that may not have the necessary knowledge and skills to compete in the global market. To address this issue, legislators in some states are proposing plans that would make tuition at public community colleges free for all students, regardless of income.
 
Advantages of Zero-Tuition Programs
 
Clearly, free tuition makes college much more affordable for students. At a time when college tuition costs are higher than ever, being able to take advantage of such savings could encourage untold numbers of college hopefuls to enroll in classes at their local community college. Of course, with a college education comes improved knowledge, an expanded skillset, and better marketability for jobs.
 
Additionally, getting young people to go to college is a means to reverse the trend of income inequality in this country. With more and more of the nation’s wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, getting a college degree can help improve the economic situation of millions of young people that are the future of this country’s workforce. The better educated they are and the more skills they have, the more in-demand they will be and the more money they will make. As a result, upward mobility becomes much easier and the middle class expands.

 
Furthermore, providing a tuition-free education addresses,...
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Part of the college experience today is learning with, and learning from, people different from ourselves. However, in the past, some colleges were racially segregated - particularly in the South - until desegregation began in the 1950s and increased diversity at college campuses. And while some colleges today are for specific populations, such as women, in general, college campuses are bastions of racial, ethnic, religious, and social diversity. This diversity lends itself to an enhanced educational experience, better preparation for working for companies with diverse employees, and greater understanding of others. But where are the most diverse community colleges located? We collected data from community colleges in each state and analyzed it to determine how much diversity exists.

 
Diversity Scores of Community Colleges
 
In order to appropriately compare the diversity of community colleges, we mined student data and calculated diversity scores for each state. Specifically, we were interested in the presence of more than one ethnic group on campus. Our formula determines the likelihood that any two students at a college are from different ethnic groups. Scores closer to zero indicate less diversity on campus, while a score closer to 1 indicates more diversity on campus. For example, a college exclusively for African-American students would have a diversity score of zero even though the student body is comprised of an ethnic minority, because other ethnic groups would not be present on campus. Conversely, a college with five or six ethnic groups on campus would have...
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As City College of San Francisco fights to remain open after the current school year, others are beginning to question the validity of an accrediting agency that is threatening the very existence of vital California community colleges. Scrutiny and even lawsuits are leaving the accrediting agency vulnerable, while other California schools struggle with the realization their accreditation may be the next on the line. How will this growing problem eventually be resolved?
 
More California Schools Heading to the Chopping Block?
 
The chancellor of the California Community College System, Bryce Harris, recently stated at the San Francisco Business Times that the possible de-accreditation of City College of San Francisco might be just the tip of the iceberg. Harris told the Business Times that as many as 20 California schools could be facing accreditation challenges in the not-so-distant future. While Harris did not name specific school names in his warning, he admitted the problems facing City College could plague many other schools in the state.
 
In July, the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC) announced it would be pulling City College’s accreditation at the end of the current academic year in 2014. The commission cited a number of reasons for the decision, including a confusing structure of governance and lack of financial accountability. Other factors that led to the action by the commission included support services, facilities and teaching standards that were not compliant with the commission’s requirements in these areas.
 
As one solution to the problem,...
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The rankings are out from Washington Monthly, giving prospective students and their parents a snapshot of some of the top-performing community colleges in the country for 2013. This publication is one of the few that includes community colleges in their overall rankings of postsecondary institutions. In addition, the publication uses slightly different criteria for ranking schools, which may make this list noteworthy to those trying to gain a complete picture of a community college before shelling out that first tuition payment.
 
Unique Metrics Set New Rankings Apart
 
According to the Christian Science Monitor, one of the factors that sets the Washington Monthly rankings apart from the rest is the somewhat unique metrics used to rate colleges. Instead of focusing merely on admission difficulty and reputation, this ranking system uses criteria like commitment to research and service, and social mobility. The publication also includes a “best bang for your buck” category for four-year schools that ranks them according to the price paid for a degree vs. what graduates can expect to get back in return.
 
The fact that Washington Monthly provides a ranking of community colleges also sets this annual list apart from the rest. Although two out of every five college students opt for community college after high school, few ranking systems provide this type of information for these schools. However, as community colleges continue to increase in popularity among high school graduates and working adults alike, the need for this type of information grows as well.
 
Benchmarks from CCSSE
 
The...
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The rankings are in for this year’s analysis of the top degree-producing community colleges by Community College Week. In addition to listing the top 100 schools, researchers also discovered that the overall number of associate degrees earned made a jump this year, to top one million for the first time in history. Some schools that made significant contributions to this total are now celebrating their accomplishments with recognition in the rankings.
 
How States Fared
 
The latest analysis also looked at the number of associate degrees by state. That total number was weighed against the total population in the state, to get a more accurate idea of the percentage of state residents earning degrees or certification from community college. While states with larger populations also tended to issue more associate degrees, some states turned out more community college graduates as a percentage of their total population than others.
 
The state with the most associate degrees during the 2011-2012 academic year was California, with 114,612 degrees awarded. California also boasts one of the largest overall populations in the country, as well as the largest community college system in the U.S. However, the second biggest degree-producing state was Florida, even though that state ranked fourth in overall population.
 
Other states that ranked in the top 10 in terms of degree productions included:
 
       ·      New York (69,654)
       ·      Texas (69,654)
       ·      Arizona (62,990)
       ·      Illinois (41,618)
       ·      Ohio (35,871)
       ·      Michigan (33,322)
       ·      Pennsylvania (29,794)
       ·      Washington (28,977)
 
The smallest number of associate degrees...
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