Getting Started

What is a community college and why are more students turning to them? Who are some of the most famous community college graduates? Here you’ll find the answers to these questions and more.
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Community college enrollment has increased across the country in recent years, and there are many reasons for the influx of students. A sluggish economy, lower tuition rates and high quality education are just a few of those reasons. With community colleges finding a new role in educating students in America today, there are numerous compelling reasons to give these two-year schools another look.
 
Lower Rates, Less Debt
 
One of the top reasons students are considering community colleges over four-year schools today is an issue of cost. According to Yahoo Finance, the average annual cost to attend community college during the 2010-2011 school year was $8,734, which included tuition and books, room and board and living expenses. In contrast, the annual cost to attend a four-year school during the same year was $18,133. Even public institutions, which are supposed to offer a more budget-friendly option to four-year students, had an average annual cost of $13,297.
 
Tuition costs for two-year institutions hover at around $2,000-$3,000 per year. That amount is much more affordable than the tuition at four-year schools, which can run as high as $8,000 or more for public institutions and up to $50,000 or more for private schools. Students that qualify for significant scholarship money may find the four-year schools affordable, but those who don’t get any financial help may be out of luck.
 
Debt is another concern for students heading to four-year schools. Yahoo also cites the average amount of debt a student is saddled with after...
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While libraries and book vendors are teeming with information about preparing for a four-year college, there is relatively little available to help students prepare for the community college experience. Thomas J. Snyder, president of Ivy Tech Community College, hopes to fill that niche, with his new guide titled, “The Community College Career Track: A Guide for High-Schoolers, Career-Changers, Parents and Advisors.” Snyder uses his experiences in both the academic and corporate sectors to offer community college-bound students and their parents the help they need to navigate the community college system adeptly. The guide focuses on helping students get on the right career track, using community college as a launching pad.

A Different Path to Opportunity
 
Snyder believes that community college can be an effective path to a rewarding, lucrative career, additional education, or a combination of the two. Snyder told the Northwest Indiana Times that with many four-year students graduating with as much as $80,000 in debt and no job prospects, the middle class is now looking at the possibility that a four-year degree may not be the most cost-effective path right out of high school. As Snyder interviewed numerous community college students in preparation for writing his guidebook, he realized that the majority were landing good jobs right out of school, with little or no debt to worry about.
 
“Whether it is a traditional student or a displaced worker, community colleges offer an opportunity to pursue a degree or certification that leads directly to employment,” Snyder stated...
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Not everyone who makes headlines today came from an Ivy League institution; in fact, some did not attend a four-year university at all. Those who did often got their start in the humble beginnings of their local community college – a school that may be highly underrated for its ability to churn out graduates poised to make a real difference in the world. Take a look at these 10 famous community college graduates to see how two-year schools can provide the foundation for a bright future.

Ross Perot
 
This two-time presidential candidate ran on the independent ticket in 1992 and 1996. A successful businessman in his own right, Business Insider reports that Perot worked for IBM before leaving the company to start his own business, Electronic Data Systems, in 1984. After Perot sold that company to General Motors for $2.4 billion, Perot started a second company, Perot Systems, Inc. That business was acquired by Dell in 2009 for $3.9 billion.
 
Before beginning his long and illustrious business career, Perot began his quest into higher education at Texarkana Community College. After taking classes at his local community college, Perot transferred to the Naval Academy, where he graduated in 1953.
 
Tom Hanks
 
This Oscar-award winning actor, known for his stellar performances in flicks like “Forrest Gump” and “Saving Private Ryan,” reportedly couldn’t land roles in theatre productions during his college years. According to the Huffington Post, Hanks first attended Chabot College in Hayward, California, for two years, before transferring to California...
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Community colleges have traditionally received a bad reputation for the quality of education they provide, but is that reputation really well founded? While not all community colleges are created equal to be sure, many are working hard to provide a high quality education to their students, with a wealth of degree options in fields looking for skilled workers.  To ensure the education at community college remains top-rated, benchmarks are being put into place to hold schools accountable for their performance and help students make the best choice in schools for their specific needs.

The Spotlight on Community Colleges
 
Community colleges have come under increased scrutiny in recent years, thanks to the Obama administration. When President Obama announced his lofty goal to significantly increase the number of college graduates in this country by 2020, he raised community colleges up as an important tool in meeting his goal – an action that community colleges have both lauded and feared. As more people turn to community colleges as a way to achieve a higher education, focus on these schools also involves evaluating the quality of education received.
 
Today, it is not enough for community colleges to boast they are the institutions that put students first. They must go beyond their history of innovative curriculum and teaching strategies to accurately measure how well those strategies actually work. Even without sufficient budgets or tools to meet the requirements of their students, these schools are now on the hot seat to find ways to...
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When President Obama took office in 2009, he adopted the ambitious goal of raising college graduation rates in America to 60 percent, which translates to five million additional college graduates by the year 2020. Achieving this lofty goal has already proven to be easier said than done, as the cost of education continues to increase across the country. This month, the President called a meeting with college officials, who were invited to the White House to discuss with the President how to make college less expensive and more productive. The task is far from small, as there are many issues that must be addressed before Washington will see an improvement to the current state of the community college system.

The Latest Meeting
 
According to a report at Inside Higher Ed, the latest meeting between President Obama and college leaders was unusual on three counts. First, the meeting was called rather last minute, with college officials scrambling somewhat to make it to Washington for their appointment. Second, the meeting was held behind closed doors, without journalists or others privy to the information that was shared.  Finally, the meeting was attended by the President himself, instead of a representative from the President’s staff, as is the norm with most meetings of this nature.
 
The Washington meeting was well-attended, with representatives from large state systems, private institutions and a community college system in attendance. The three representatives from state systems included Nancy Zimpher, chancellor of the State University of New York; Francisco Cigarroa,...
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Why Community College

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