Dressed for Future Success? Community College Dress Codes

Dressed for Future Success? Community College Dress Codes
Should students be free to fully express themselves through their wardrobe? Some community colleges think that dress codes are in order, ranging from uniforms to even business-appropriate attire.
Once thought of as traditional and old-fashioned, dress codes and school uniforms have become a center of focus for many schools once again. Some school administrators assert that maintaining a standard of dress is essential to level the playing field for students of all income levels and backgrounds, as well as to promote a clean, safe campus. The movement to stricter dress codes is no longer stopping at the secondary level. Today, some community colleges are even hopping aboard the dress code bandwagon too!  

Why Enforce Dress Codes?

The Clearinghouse on Educational Policy and Management from the University of Oregon states that the implementation of dress codes or school uniforms has been linked to a variety of benefits, including:

  • Safer schools overall
  • Enhanced learning environment
  • Higher student self esteem
  • Less pressure on parents

A strict dress code has been found to minimize violence in schools, particularly when it comes to gang-style clothing.  In addition, by eliminating expensive trendy clothing, the number of students robbed of shoes, hats, and jackets can be reduced.  Of course, when students feel safer on their school campus, learning is also enhanced.

Community College Dress Codes

In addition to many of the benefits listed above, community college students who must adhere to a relatively strict dress code receive training in how to dress for the professional world and beyond. Many community college administrators take their job of vocational training very seriously, and they believe appearance is an important component in that training if their graduates are to be truly employable.
We have a few samples of community colleges that are cracking down on the dress code for the sake of a more productive and profitable learning experience.
According to a recent report at WTVD-TV in Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina, this school is in the process of determining an appropriate dress code for students. While the school already has a policy in place concerning student attire, administrators believe that an established dress code will improve the learning environment and promote better student behavior.

FTCC president Dr. Larry Keen told WTVD, "Our main job is to make sure that our students, when they come to us for educational training, that they are employable… and so, if we fail to correct them in terms of behaviors such as improper dress codes such as I just described, then we're not doing them a favor."


In North Carolina, community college students are also getting introduced to a new dress code this year. According to a report in the News & Record, Guilford Technical Community College (GTCC) recently approved a number of policies regarding student behavior, including a nonspecific dress code for students. The dress code requires students to dress "in a manner in keeping with the serious academic intent of the college and in a manner acceptable to the community." The new dress code will be reviewed with the students in classrooms, and it allows faculty to address students wearing inappropriate clothing.

North Carolina Central University

This college has eliminated a variety of potentially offensive forms of dress, including mini-skirts, midriff tops and short-shorts, according to a report on Higher Ed Morning. In addition, the school has made hats, pajamas and do-rags outlawed attire. The college believes that appropriate dress leads to more appropriate, respectful behavior by students. One of the business professors at the school tells her students to wear suits in conservative colors and styles to help prepare students for the business world that lies ahead. 

Knox Community College

For American college students complaining about dress codes on their campuses, consider Knox Community College in Jamaica. According to the college website, this institution requires students to wear uniforms that consist of white shirts, ties and slacks or skirts. No jewelry (other than one pair of earrings for female students), hair adornments or makeup is allowed. The purpose of school uniforms at Knox was to create a level playing field for a student body that comes from all socio-economic groups. The dress code was approved by school administrators and voted on by college students.

Dress codes have evolved considerably throughout the generations, ranging from strict uniforms to looser codes that allowed almost any form of dress to slip through the cracks. Today, dress codes in schools are getting a fresh look, all the way through the years of higher education. With a dress code in place, students may enjoy a level playing field and less peer pressure, which may help them focus more effectively on their studies and preparing for work after graduation.
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