Why Community College
Greater Diversity in Degree Programs
Community colleges were typically known for their relatively generic, liberal arts degree programs, but not any longer. Today’s student can choose from a wide range of two-year degrees, ranging from fine arts to engineering. Many of the degree programs at community colleges today are industry-centric, meaning they focus on training individuals for jobs in the local market. Schools even partner with employers in the community to ensure the training students receive at the community college can take them right into the workforce.
- Solar Energy Technology
- Sustainable Agriculture
- Performing Arts and Music
- Computer Engineering
- Exercise Science
- Nursing and Healthcare
- Manufacturing Engineering
Fewer Community College Students in Oklahoma this Year
Oklahoma is just one of many states seeing fewer community college students head to class this fall. According to a report at News OK, most of the community colleges throughout Oklahoma are reporting enrollment drops as the academic year gets underway. During the past decade, enrollment in the state’s colleges shot up from around 88,000 students in 2000 to more than 117,000 by 2010. Much of that growth – around 16,000 students – occurred during 2009 and 2010: the years of economic recession across the country.
Tighter Finances All Around
The San Francisco Chronicle reports that since 2008, the community college system throughout California has received $809 million less in state funding, which makes up around 12 percent of the system’s total funding. When lost funding is combined with the rising costs of running an institution of higher education, the financial deficits become even more pronounced. For example, Diablo Valley College, located in Pleasant Hill, California, has cut around $14 million from its budget since 2009, to compensate for a loss of $5.2 million in state funding and rising operational costs.
A new study from Achieving the Dream, a non-profit organization, was created to improve community college outcomes for low-income students. The study, titled, “Where to Begin? The Evolving Role of Placement Exams for Students Starting College,” found that tests commonly used by colleges to determine incoming student placement may be inaccurate and create hurdles to student success in college. The study found that other factors, including high school grades, may be better measures of success.