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