Monday, January 22, 2007

Community Colleges' Growing Importance

The debate over the changing role of higher education is ramping up in academe. On one hand, there is the "higher ed should not simply be a training ground for the future workers of tomorrow" crowd, citing the many ethical and political risks associated with that position.

On the other hand, there is the "students are entitled to receive the type of education they will require to succeed post-graduation; besides, with the financial fate of un-skilled workers looking more and more bleak, isn't consigning them to a position among the 'have-nots' the greater injustice?" group. And of course, there are an unlimited number of other positions/perspectives...

Community colleges--long disrespected among 4-year colleges--have recently been gaining ground. In many cases, due to rising costs, students are choosing to complete as many credits as possible at their local community college, before entering their BA/BS programs. Financially, it makes a LOT of sense (I wish I had had that opportunity, but at the time, Northwest PA had no community college all...):

With their low tuitions and convenient locations, community colleges like Massasoit serve nearly half the country's undergraduates – everyone from second-career starters like Mr. Loughran to new immigrants to fast-track high-schoolers. But by some counts, fewer than half of community college students meet their educational goals, and that has a ripple effect in efforts to educate local workforces and make the United States more competitive.

Community colleges are becoming more aware of their shortcomings, experts say, in areas such as student advising, teaching methods, and the process of transferring academic credits. To address the latter, two-year and four-year institutions are collaborating on academic standards to ensure that key courses are transferable and are graded in a similar way...

Read the full article here.

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