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.
View the most popular articles in Why Community College:
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Dual-Enrollment Presents Financial Drain for Florida Community Colleges
The popularity of dual-enrollment classes at Florida community colleges has presented a financial challenge as students grab the opportunity to take courses tuition-free.
While community college has traditionally been a budget-friendly place to pursue higher education, some high school students have discovered they can take that benefit a step further by taking college courses while they are still in high school. This program, referred to as dual enrollment, is especially advantageous because high school students do not have to pay tuition on classes taken during the high school years. However, community colleges in Florida have found that the popularity of dual-enrollment programs is creating a financial dilemma for the very schools that originally used the programs to encourage high-achieving high school students to pursue higher education.

The Benefits of Dual Enrollment

Two recent studies from the National Center for Postsecondary Research show that dual enrollment has some positive effects on college enrollment and completion. According to a report at the Council for the Study of Community Colleges website, one study found that students who took dual enrollment classes were12 percent more likely to go to college and seven percent more likely to earn a bachelor’s degree than those who did not participate in dual enrollment courses. However, the positive effects were restricted to students who took classes on the college campus, instead of in their own high school classrooms.

The second study found that students who passed a college algebra placement test and participated in a dual-enrollment college algebra class were 16 percent more likely to go to college and 23 percent more likely to earn a degree. Both of
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Class Rationing Coming to California? Some Say Yes
In light of the huge budget cuts facing California community colleges, class rationing is now on the table as one option to help schools stay in the black. Is it right, fair or even practical? We’ll explore the issue.
It’s no secret that California’s community college system is working under a squeaky tight budget this year, in light of the state’s decision to pull even more college funding from their budget. However, the question remains as to how to educate a record number of Californians with less money to go around? The solutions have not been easy and some have been downright unpalatable, including one choice on the table to ration classes for students most likely to succeed. Still the idea has some merit with many inside the system, and it may be the precise direction California community colleges are forced to head into during the next academic year.
Forced to Turn Students Away

California community colleges are supposed to be an affordable way for state residents to get a higher education, whether they are recent high school graduates or professionals looking to make a career change. Currently, the system boasts around 2.6 million students from all demographics, coming to campuses to find the education and training they need to create a better life for themselves and their families. Community colleges have long been touted as a way to break the poverty cycle, allowing first-generation college students to find good jobs and income once their college education is completed.

However, the simple law of supply and demand has forced many schools across the state to make difficult decisions about who gets to pursue that education and who must wait in the wings. According to a report
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Baby Boomers Heading Back to Community College
Learn about the increasing number of baby boomers who are becoming community college students and what schools are doing to accommodate them.
The typical community college student has never been particularly traditional, but in recent years, demographics on community college campuses have become even more diverse. One student profile that has seen a significant increase at two-year schools across the country is the baby boomer looking for additional career training or self-improvement opportunities. As schools have seen more over-50 students hit their campuses, many have made adjustments to make those students feel more at home.
The Rise in Baby Boomers

USA Today reports that according to the American Association of Community Colleges, 388,000 students over the age of 50 were enrolled in community colleges in 2009. The number indicates a 6-percent increase from 2007 and a 12-percent rise from 2005. Currently, people in this age demographic make up around five to six percent of the total community college population across the country.

There are many reasons why baby boomers are hitting the books later in life today. Many are looking for career advancement or changes, and require additional training to get where they want to go. Some have been laid off of jobs they held for the majority of their adult life and need training and a new direction to make themselves marketable once again. Still others are simply attracted to the process of learning – and the chance to better themselves by learning something new. No matter what the reason might be for heading back to school, it can be an intimidating step to venture onto a college
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Is Enrollment Dropping on Community College Campuses?
A new study released by the American Association of Community Colleges and the National Student Clearinghouse show that enrollment explosions at community colleges nationwide may be leveling off or even dropping.
Enrollment has been growing by exponential numbers at many community colleges across the country, as an economic slowdown and high unemployment rates have sent many adults back to school in search of training. While attendance increased from 2007 to 2010 at many schools nationwide, that trend does seem to be ending in the current academic year. According to a recent report released by the American Association of Community Colleges, enrollment at community colleges experienced a slight decline in 2011, indicating the fast-paced growth may be coming to an end.

Stabilizing Enrollment Still Features High Numbers

While community college enrollment may be stabilizing, the number of students in community college today versus four years ago is still much higher.
“It’s not that enrollment is down,” Kent Phillipe, senior research associate for the American Association of Community Colleges told Inside Higher Ed. “It has essentially stopped growing.”
Phillipe explained that community college enrollments have “stabilized at a high number,” indicating that although growth may be slowing, there are still record numbers of students at community college campuses across the nation. In some ways, the stabilization may ease the strain on community colleges that have been struggling to find ways to accommodate more students every year. The job has been particularly challenging in light of the many state budget cuts that have resulted in less state funding to the very schools that are trying to ramp up their programs to meet the increasing enrollment needs.
“When rising enrollments maxed out their classrooms and swamped
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What Can Washington do about the State of Community Colleges?
President Obama met with community college leaders recently, and we’ll analyze what they discussed and what Washington can do to help make community colleges less expensive and more productive.
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


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.


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.