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Why You Should Care About Your Community College

You may not have spent much time thinking about your local community college or what the advantages they bestow upon your neighborhood or town. However, if it weren’t for community colleges, many people would never receive a college degree or be able to seek jobs that allow them to move upward in income level and personal growth. In fact, community colleges may be called the “linchpin” of the higher learning and can provide an invaluable foundation for postsecondary education.

Dr. David L. Levinson, President of Norwalk Community College in Norwalk, CT and author of Community Colleges: A Reference Handbook supports this idea. “Community colleges are poised to be the linchpin for a new training and workforce system in the United States,” Levinson wrote in his book. “Community colleges are where the rubber meets the road with respect to providing workers with the skills necessary to embark on an upwardly mobile career pathway.”

What are the advantages of community college? What makes community colleges so special? And why should you be concerned about supporting your local community college? Here are some facts about community colleges as well as good reasons for you to become involved with your local school.

Providing Affordable Education for People of All Incomes

While many four-year schools offer scholarships and grants, community colleges are the inexpensive and staffed with educators whose sole job is to instruct students, rather than to produce research programs for their institution. In addition, many community colleges have transfer agreements with public and private universities. Together, community colleges are uniquely focused on providing affordable educations for students of all income ranges.

While many four-year universities offer financial aid to low-income students, some have argued that they still lag behind community colleges in terms of the flexibility offered to students who work multiple jobs. Becky Wai-Ling, professor of psychology at Mount Holyoke College and New York Times commentator bemoaned this lack of response to students’ needs in an October 2012 column.

“We’ve learned that students are working many hours to make ends meet,” Wai-Ling said. “Finances really matter. Students need flexible workplaces and colleges to make it work. Four-year institutions in particular have not fully recognized the changing demographics of students.”

In an effort to respond to respond to student need, some community colleges in areas with high numbers of Hispanic students offer bilingual classes so that a college education is accessible to the students in the area. In 2011, the Obama administration announced that grants worth $107.4 million were to be sent to Hispanic-serving institutions to further educational opportunities for students. There are a number of Hispanic-serving colleges across the U.S., including Phoenix College, in Arizona and Cerro Coso Community College, in California.

Many community colleges focus on certain groups of people and offer special programs to help these groups move out of poverty or into higher earning occupations. Armed with the knowledge that only five percent of the 500,000 associate’s degrees earned by women at community colleges each year are in the science, technology, engineering, mathematics fields, (NYT, 2013) Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts set up an initiative with funding from the National Science Foundation to provide more women with a science-focused college education.

Another one of the benefits of community college is that they reach out to local students is by providing dual-enrollment classes with local high schools. Unlike larger colleges, community colleges tend to work closely with local public schools and offer more articulation between high school classes and college classes. Running Start, a program that operates primarily out of Washington State, offers high school students the chance to take classes at a community college during their junior and senior years of high school. As a result, many high school students enrolled in the program graduate with college credits in addition to their high school diploma. Highline Community College and Seattle Central Community College, both in Washington State, offer this program.

In addition to community colleges, online colleges offer students who may not be able to afford the cost of a traditional four-year institution a chance to earn a degree. In 2012, Coursera and The American Council on Education announced that in 2013 they would launch a pilot project aimed towards determining and overseeing the transition of online credits to college credits. 

Community Colleges Offer Extracurricular Programs

Some students think that by attending community college they are sacrificing their chance to participate in extracurricular activities. However, this is far from true, as many community colleges bring both students and local residents together by allowing them to participate in a variety of activities. Many community college programs are also open to the public, so the community can become involved in a variety of extracurricular programs, such as theater and various sports.

How Can I Support My Local Community College?

Community colleges are usually a part of the public university system in your state. That means that they will receive a certain portion of their operating capital from government funding. However, this can still fall short for community colleges to provide all the services necessary to meet the needs of the local population. Community members can help by donating time and money to their local community colleges or by attending community college classes, even if they are not pursuing a degree. Why go to community college? Many community colleges offer adult education classes which can be beneficial to community members such as courses on first aid, CPR, arts and crafts, and other topics. By paying a small fee for these classes, community members can help support their local colleges and learn useful skills for personal development.

Your community college is a vital part of your neighborhood and the life of your area. You can support your local community colleges with your time, money, and attendance.

This article was contributed by the staff at www.nursingclassesonline.net, a leading information resource for nursing students and professionals.


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