Saturday, May 16, 2009

Community Colleges: A Viable Option to a College Degree

Parents did you know by 2010 over 85% of all jobs will require some form of postsecondary education (McCabe, 2001). Also a recent report released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics claimed more than 46% of the jobs today did not exist in 2004. The need for an educated workforce, skilled to meet the demands and challenges of an ever changing technological society will be required if countries, states, local municipalities and individuals hope to remain competitive in the 21st century.

There is an ever increasing demand from business and industry for an educated workforce. Their demands comes on the heel of reduced funding from federal and states to support financial aid programs for students who aspire to attend college. As a resutl parents and students will need to develop strategies to ensure college does not become unaffordable. One such strategy has been for students to attend community Colleges.

Community colleges educate over 11.5 million Americans in more than 1,200 institutions located throughout the United States. In the state of Maryland there are 16 community colleges. These institutions have an enrollment of over 500,000 students annually (Maryland Community College Fact, 2009). The Maryland Community Fact guide also indicates that more college bound Maryland students opt to attend a local community college over state colleges and universities.

Community colleges offer an institution that is responsive, adaptive and growing according to Kenneth Walker (2007). These three factors combined with a myriad of others have position the community college to offer the necessary postsecondary credentials needed to effectively prepare students to compete in world that is driven by globalization.

Community colleges are an affordable option for parents and students. Tuition at community colleges can be thousands of dollars less than most public and private 4-year institutions. They are also significantly less expensive than for-profit/career colleges such as Strayer University, University of Phoenix and Sanford Brown. Kristen Watson a student at Clemson University explains the benefit of attending a community college, "It makes no sense to take a summer course here at Clemson due to the high tuition. It makes more sense to go to a technical college and pay a few hundred dollars instead of a thousand dollars here at Clemson" (, 2009).

So exactly what are the advantages of attending a community college? In my opinion, there are at least 15 advantages to attending a community college:

  1. Four out of ten college students nationwide begin their education career at a local community college (College Board, 2009).

  2. Community colleges are open access (accepting all that apply)

  3. Attending a community college can help a student to boast their GPA

  4. An affordable option
    a. Enrolling at a community college prior to completing your degree at a 4-year institution has the potential to save thousands of dollars in tuition cost (American Association of Community Colleges, 2009).

  5. Attending a community college can prepare a student for the rigors of postsecondary education

  6. Community colleges offer two year degree programs and vocational programs with certification, such as Carpentry, Automobile Technician, Nursing and HVAC

  7. Many of the academic and vocational programs are supported by local business and industry, increasing potential for employment placement upon completion of an enrolled program

  8. Community colleges have articulation agreements with most state 4-year public and private institutions, this makes it easier to transfer credits earned at a college to an institution of choice

  9. Most credits earned at a community college can be transferred to most accredited 4-years institutions throughout the United States

  10. Community Colleges are accredited, thus ensuring state, regional and federal standards of operations

  11. Close to home

  12. An effective way to transition from high school to postsecondary education

  13. An opportunity to take all General Education courses

  14. Smaller classes

  15. State of the art technology

By: Michael A. Robinson (

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