In certain circles, community colleges are looked down upon. Some believe a community college degree is somehow less valuable than one earned at a traditional four-year college or university. Many believe, however, that community colleges are the “cornerstone of American higher education.” As the country works to recover from the coronavirus pandemic, they may be more important now than ever.
Community colleges enroll nearly half of all college students and provide educational opportunities some students would otherwise not be able to access. They play a role in workforce development, local economic development, and vocational training.
The coronavirus pandemic that has stretched into the summer of 2020 has changed the face of the American education system at all levels. As we look ahead to the 2020-21 school year, thousands of students find themselves wondering what their postsecondary education is going to look like. In these times of change, community colleges are becoming more important than ever before.
The Role of Community Colleges
The significance of community college is right there in the name – community. Steven Mintz of Inside Higher Ed suggests, “community colleges have a critical role to play in addressing the country’s greatest challenges: stagnant family incomes, disparities in income and wealth, and political polarization.” These institutions play a significant role in their communities and in the greater educational system.
These are some of the most important roles community colleges play:
- Workforce development
- Local and regional economic development
- Technical and vocational training
- Human capital formation
- Low-cost gateway to higher education
- Community service
Though many in the educational community
Colleges and universities across the nation have been financially impacted by COVID-19 in numerous ways. From forced housing refunds to declining enrollment and loss of revenue, many community colleges find themselves wondering what the 2020/21 semester will look like – if they have one.
In this article, we’ll explore the financial impact of COVID-19 on community colleges and what they are doing to make up for lost funds. We’ll also touch on predictions for enrollment in the 2020/21 school year and examine the data we’ve already collected regarding the impact of the pandemic on community colleges as well as their faculty and students.
How Have Budget Cuts Affected Community Colleges?
Though the novel coronavirus had already taken hold in numerous countries by then, the World Health Organization (WHO) didn’t announce COVID-19 as a global health crisis until March 11, 2020. Within weeks, thousands of businesses closed their doors and millions of college students were sent home.
Schools around the country scrambling to take their programs online were met with the additional challenge of unequal access to resources among their students. For thousands of students, the college experience was significantly altered and not everyone took it in stride. Several colleges were sued by students in search of tuition refunds and many colleges were forced to provide housing refunds, often toe the tune of over $1,500 per student.
Now that most colleges and universities have officially completed their 2019/20 school year, colleges are left wondering what the next will bring. Many schools find themselves
After twelve or more years of traditional education, high school seniors look forward to enjoying the “college experience.” Living on campus, freedom to choose classes, and taking advantage of a wide range of extracurricular activities is what makes college such an exciting time in life. Many students choose their school as much for the program as for the on-campus experience.
Since March 7th when The University of Washington became the first large U.S. university to close due to coronavirus, many others have followed suit. According to CNBC, over 1,100 colleges and universities in the United States have closed their campuses, impacting an estimated 14 million students.
In this time of uncertainty, current college students are forced to wonder how these changes will impact the remainder of their college career and, for many, their graduation and entry into the workforce. For prospective students and parents, it raises questions about what a college education will look like in the fall of 2020 and how much it will cost.
In this article, we’ll explore the ways the coronavirus pandemic has affected United States higher education and how students, parents, and the schools themselves are reacting.
How COVID-19 Has Changed the College Experience
In the wake of the COVID-19 crisis, public schools in most states have been closed for weeks already and many have decided not to reopen this school year. College students were asked not to return from spring break or sent home if they were still on campus. Classes have transitioned to remote
Community college is the only option for many students who either can’t afford a traditional four-year university or who need a more flexible school environment. Just because community college is different, however, doesn’t mean that its students matter any less. The Aspen Prize exists to encourage community colleges to do more for their students and to continually strive for improvement.
For many years, community colleges had a reputation for being a lesser version of traditional 4-year colleges and universities. It was common for community colleges to offer a smattering of courses at affordable tuition rates, but many were found lacking when it came to helping students complete a degree or transfer to an accredited university.
The Aspen Prize was developed to reward community colleges that go the extra mile toward help their students complete degrees and experience success after graduation. The organization that awards the prize assesses how well institutes perform in four different areas. The award is given every two years and the recipients should be viewed as examples for other community colleges to follow if they hope to do what is best for their students.
In this article, we’ll explore the history of the Aspen Prize and how it was developed. We’ll also take a closer look at this year’s recipients to determine what other community colleges can do to follow their example of commitment to student success, both in college and after graduating.
What is the Aspen Prize?
The Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence is awarded every
Though some still think that community colleges are somehow less legitimate than traditional colleges and universities, the fact remains that community colleges provide opportunities for students that might not otherwise find the right fit. With reduced tuition costs and flexible class schedules, community college is ideally suited to non-traditional students including single parents, slightly older adults, and students for whom English is a second language.
Though community colleges fill an important niche in the American hierarchy of education, statistics show that enrollment numbers are falling at an alarming rate. Between 2016 and 2017 alone, enrollment dropped by nearly 2% nationwide. Furthermore, a survey of college and university admissions directors completed by Inside Higher Ed revealed that 84% of community colleges have seen enrollment declines over the past two years.
With declining enrollments and new political challenges to face, community colleges are being forced to adapt. Read on to learn how community colleges are changing strategies to boost enrollment.
Why Is Enrollment in Decline?
In 2018, the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center performed a survey to evaluate recent declines in community college enrollments. The survey revealed a decline of 1.8% or 275,000 students compared to the previous spring. This marks the seventh straight year where community college enrollment declined in the United States.
According to the survey, enrollment was down in 34 states. Six out of the ten largest states on that list were located in the Northeast or Midwestern United States. After taking an in-depth look at these declining student