A comment that followed the first essay in this two-part series sums up nicely the reason I’m writing it: “I find it a bit irritating,” wrote one reader, “that there is such little understanding of the value and opportunity provided … by community colleges.”
Indeed. And yet that deficiency appears common among higher-education professionals and, especially, policy makers. Community colleges, it seems, are constantly having to defend themselves to people who have no idea what those colleges do or how they do it, and who often evaluate their worth using criteria designed to assess four-year campuses.
The truth is, much of what community colleges do is difficult to measure empirically and must therefore be explained to key stakeholders like state education officials, legislators, and policy makers. I can only hope they’re reading this. In Part 1, I focused on the ways that community colleges help people. This month I’d like to talk about what they do for the surrounding cities and towns.
Points of access. In April, The Chronicle reported on a new study on “The Effects of Rurality on College Access and Choice,” which found that students in rural areas are less likely to go to college. Those who do go to college, the study said, “are more likely to choose two-year institutions”—as if that were a bad thing. <Read more.>