Why Community College

Learn all about community college and whether it is the right choice for your academic career. We’ll cover the history of community colleges, the latest trends and issues, and the top degree-producing schools. Find out why students are turning to community colleges, see what issues affect campuses with such a diverse student body, and get information on the latest trends in degree offerings.
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When it became clear that the country was entering a protracted period of economic decline in 2007, traditional and non-traditional aged students alike flocked to nearby community colleges to undertake degree and certificate programs. Some sought to learn new skills in the hopes of retaining their current jobs, while others, laid off from companies tightening their belts, were in search of a completely new set of skills to make themselves more marketable.

As bad as the Great Recession was for many sectors of the economy, it was a boon for community colleges. From 2007 to 2011, the number of students enrolled at community colleges nationwide soared by almost 25 percent. Community colleges benefitted more from the recession than their four-year counterparts for several reasons. First, community colleges are far more cost efficient than four-year colleges and universities, with costs for tuition and fees just a fraction of those at their four-year counterparts. Second, community colleges typically offer more practical and vocational courses that can help students find employment in fast-growing sectors such as information technology and health care. These programs generally take two years or less to complete, therefore students can enter the workforce relatively quickly. Finally, community college is an attractive option for adults who have to work around family schedules and their occupations, because many community colleges offer evening, weekend, and online course options. Thus, when the employment outlook is poor, people can quickly reinvent themselves by obtaining a community college education.

Declining Enrollment

Recent data on community college . . . read more


How to Tell if Community College is Right for You

So you’re ready to make a big decision about your next step in life – is community college the right choice for you?

A community college offers students a wide range of benefits and is a good choice for many people. Some students go through a lot of preparation to determine what they want to do after they graduate and where they want to go in life. Adults too may find themselves at a cross roads where they have the option to return to college for a degree or further training. Thousands of students, in every state, enroll in community college and find the experience to be very worthwhile. Community college might be especially good for you if you can answer yes to any of these points.

1. Cost is a major factor in your decision. 

Tuition is usually a lot cheaper at a community college than it is at a four year college or university. You can save money by taking classes at a community college, and even if you transfer on to another college for a higher degree, those first few years of education will cost you less at the community college. Two years at a four year school could cost  you $40,000 but those same two years at a community college may cost half that or less! This option is great for recent high school graduates, adult students, and returning college students who need more education and training . . . read more

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 . . . read more

Students heading to community college this fall may see some new features at their otherwise familiar campuses. Many schools have spent the summer months getting ready for the next academic year adding a wide range of options designed to attract students from all demographics. Check out five new features community college students may discover when they head back to the ivied halls this fall.
 
New Technology
 
As community colleges strive to bring their training in line with 21st century workforce needs, more technology is coming to schools across the country. For example, Diverse Issues in Higher Education reports that Prince George’s Community College has added innovative technology to the school’s state-of-the-art nursing program. The school invested $43 million into a new Center for Health Studies in an effort to accommodate a growing population of STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) students at the school.
 
Simulated mannequins are now used inside the center to teach nursing students the finer points of diagnosis and patient care. The nursing lab also boasts transparent mirrors where professors can observe students during diagnosis trials. Updated equipment, including sonography and surgical tools, are similar to those used at nearby hospital facilities in the Prince George area.
 
“Since nursing and health fields in general are among the fastest growing jobs, we really wanted this building to help make room for more health science students,” Angela Anderson, dean of the division of Health Sciences at Prince George’s Community College, told Diverse Issues in Higher Education.
 
More Classes
 
Other community colleges across . . . read more

Community colleges have traditionally been considered the go-to place for two-year vocational degrees or general college coursework for students that have plans to transfer to a four-year college or university. However, these institutions of higher education are increasing their program offerings to include a smattering of four-year degree options as well. Although not without their share of opposition, the four-year degree is slowly but surely becoming more common at the community college level. Check out these states and schools delving into the frontier of the four-year degree program.
 
Chattanooga State Considers Addition of Five Four-Year Programs
 
A community college in Tennessee is looking at adding five new programs to their current catalog selections. The Chattanoogan reports that Chattanooga State Community College is considering the addition of four-year degree programs in a variety of high-tech fields. The president of the college, Dr. Jim Cantanzaro, applied for approval of the programs last summer, and is still waiting for a response from Tennessee Board of Regents.
 
The community college would like to add four-year degree programs in chemical process engineering, radiological sciences, nuclear engineering, technology management, and mechatronics engineering. The programs were specifically chosen based on the local employment needs of the current workforce. Dr. Cantanzaro made it clear the goal of the program addition was to fulfill those professional needs and not to transform Chattanooga State in a full-fledged four-year school.
 
Dr. Cantanzaro also explained that 60 percent of the material in the new degree programs would be “applied,” meaning the . . . read more
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Why Community College

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.

Trends and Current Issues

Get information on the latest trends and issues affecting community colleges today. Explore the impact of community colleges on the global economy, get information on how community colleges have changed over the years, and see how the latest technologies are being employed on campus.

Student Populations

Attracting students from all walks of like, community college campuses are rich with diversity. This section covers a myriad of issues relating to student populations. Learn more about LGBT support on community college campuses, explore adult-friendly degree programmers and, see what resources are available to veterans.

Enrollment & Admissions

We provide a comprehensive look into some of the most important issues affecting enrollment and admissions. Get the latest news on declining enrollment across the country and the impact it has. Learn more about the latest trends in admissions requirements from vaccinations to placement tests. Find expert advice on what to expect your first year, and lean more about the pitfalls to avoid.

Degrees

Community colleges have been expanding course and degree offerings. This section provides information on your options, from GED to a bachelor’s degree. Learn how you can benefit from a professional certification, find out which community colleges are offering bachelor’s degrees, and identify the top degree-producing colleges.