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Community college

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In Canada and the United States, a community college, sometimes called a county college, junior college, technical college, or a city college, is an educational institution providing higher education and lower-level tertiary education, granting certificates, diplomas, and Associates' degrees. The name derives from the fact that community colleges primarily attract and accept students from the local community, and are often supported by the local community through property taxes.

In the UK, a community college is a name given to a secondary school, usually offering extended services of some sort, for example by having achieved a status as a technology college or by providing adult education courses. Community colleges in the UK grant General Certificates of Secondary Education and if the college incorporates a Sixth Form, A-levels or sometimes other vocational qualifications (eg GNVQs).


[edit] Terminology

Community colleges were at one time (before the 1970s and '80s) more commonly referred to as junior colleges, and that term is still used at some institutions. However, the term "junior college" has evolved to describe private two-year institutions, whereas the term "community college" has evolved to describe publicly-funded two-year institutions. Based on this evolution in terminology, the main governance body of community colleges changed its name in 1992 to the "American Association of Community Colleges" from the "American Association of Junior Colleges".

[edit] United States

In New Jersey, slightly more than half of the state's nineteen community colleges are called county colleges, not merely in name but also in descriptive speech. This is because there is one community college, often with satellite branches, dedicated to each county of the state. The term is also used by some community colleges in Texas (where community colleges are funded by county residents via property taxes assessed by a special "community college district") and Illinois.

In several California cities (including Los Angeles, San Francisco, and San Diego), New York City, and Chicago, community colleges are often called "city colleges," since they are municipally-funded and designed to serve the needs of the residents of the city in which they are situated. The City University of New York is arguably the best known example of a municipally-funded community college system, although the system includes both junior and senior (4-year) colleges, in addition to graduate programs. The Los Angeles Community College District is the largest community college system in the United States. The Maricopa Community College District in the Phoenix, Arizona metropolitan area, is the largest community college district in the United States in terms of enrollment.

In California, a large number of community colleges do not have the word "community" in their name, nor did they ever have the word "junior." This is because Calvin Flint, who supervised the founding of three such colleges during his career, famously opposed the term "junior" or any kind of qualifier as unnecessarily pejorative. His colleges "would not be junior to anyone."[1] Flint served as the first Superintendent and President of Monterey Peninsula College as well as both Foothill and De Anza Colleges. Flint Center at De Anza College is named in his honor.

[edit] Canada

In Canada, community colleges are usually simply referred to as "colleges". [citation needed]

[edit] History

Many events have contributed to the development and continued growth of community colleges. The social and economic climate of the early twentieth century led to vocal activists for a two year educational alternative to four year higher education institutions. Several different groups advocated for community colleges in the early twentieth century, including students and parents, educators, businesses, state universities, and government officials. Events like urbanization, industrialization, and economic development caused changes in society. One of education’s responses to a country in transition was the junior college.

Several different movements supported the creation of community colleges, including local community support of public and private two year institutions, the expansion of the public education system, increased professional standards for teachers, the vocational education movement, and an expanding demand for adult and community education. Numerous colleges and universities advocated for the development of junior colleges. Leadership felt small, private liberal arts colleges and high schools could provide the first two years of college while larger universities could focus resources on research and junior and senior level students.

Many of the early community colleges were an extension of high schools, like the first established in Joliet, Illinois in 1901. This was a two year system compared to one year high school extension. These initial community colleges generally were very small, usually less than 200 students and focused on a liberal arts education with the goal of transferring students to four year institutions. They were more reflective of high school needs and lacked a definite identity. Many of the early community colleges were normal schools and prepared teachers. Primary emphasis was placed on traditional middle class values and developing responsible citizens.

During the 1920s and 1930s there was a shift in the purpose of community colleges to developing a workforce, which was influenced by wide unemployment during the Great Depression. Developing "semiprofessionals" became dominant national language to describe junior college students and was used until after WWII. A two-year, terminal education, was seen as more socially efficient for students who could advance past high school but not attain bachelor's degrees. This national vocational movement was seen to give junior colleges a target population, but numerous students wanted more than a semiprofessional education; many maintained a desire to transfer. Throughout this time period, there was a move for more public two-year institutions along with a trend to separate from high schools and affiliate with higher education. With the change in affiliation came a new status which encouraged junior colleges to develop additional credibility through the creation of professional criteria and use of scientific methods.

After WWII, skilled jobs were needed and the G.I. Bill afforded more educational opportunity to veterans which resulted in increased enrollments. Another factor that led to growth was the rise of adult and community education. After WWII, community colleges were seen as a good place to house continuing education programs. The 1947 Truman Commission was a very important national document for community colleges. It suggested a network of public community colleges that would provide education to a diverse group of students at little or no cost along with serving community needs through a comprehensive mission.

This national network exploded in the 1960s with 457 community colleges and the enrollment of baby boomers. A series of grants through the Kellogg Junior College Leadership Programs helped train many community college leaders during this decade. Growth continued during the 1970s when many enrolled to escape the Vietnam era draft. The 1970s also marked a shift to faculty development, including more instructional training for the unique student body and mission of community colleges. During the 1980s, community colleges began to work more closely with high schools to prepare students for vocational and technical two year programs.

In recent history, a debate between the advocates and critics of community colleges has gained strength. Advocates argue community colleges serve the needs of society through providing college opportunity to students who may not otherwise go to college, training and retraining mid level skilled workers, and preserving the academic excellence of four year universities. Critics argue community colleges continue a culture of privilege through training business workers at public expense, not allowing working class children to advance in social class, protecting selective admissions at four year institutions for the nation's elite, and discouraging transfer through "cooling out."[citation needed] Whether community colleges give opportunity or protect privilege, their century-long history has developed a distinctive aspect of higher education. Although the growth of community colleges has stabilized in recent history, enrollment continues to outgrow four year institutions. A total of 1,166 loosely linked community colleges face challenges of new technological innovations, distance learning, funding constraints, community pressure, and international influence.[citation needed]

[edit] Governance

Most community colleges are operated either by special districts that draw property tax revenue from the local community, or by a division of the state university. In the first case, the special district is governed by a board of trustees that is appointed or elected by the local community and is subject to limited control by a state agency that supervises all community college districts.

Either way, the local board or the state university selects a president, who then acts as the chief executive officer of the college and leads the faculty and staff.

[edit] Enrollment

In North America, community colleges operate under a policy of "open admission". That is, anyone with a high school diploma or GED may attend, regardless of prior academic status or college entrance exam scores. Although community colleges have an "open admission" policy, students have to take assessment tests before enrolling at the college, due to not all courses being "open admission".

The "open admission" policy results in a wide range of students attending community college classes. Students range in age from teenagers in high school taking classes under a concurrent, or dual, enrollment policy (which allows both high school and college credits to be earned simultaneously) to working adults taking classes at night to complete a degree or gain additional skills in their field to students with graduate degrees who enroll to become more employable or to pursue lifelong interests. "Reverse transfers" (or those transferring from a university) constitute one of the fastest growing new community college cohorts.

One threat to enrollment at community colleges is the rapidly increasing popularity of for-profit e-learning and online universities, such as the University of Phoenix, which is now the 16th-largest university in the world. Market research firm Eduventures estimates that 10% of college students will be enrolled in an online degree program by 2008 [2] Many community colleges have supplemented their offerings with online courses to stave off competition from exclusively e-learning schools. For example, Northern Virginia Community College's Extended Learning Institute [1] has been offering distance learning courses for over thirty years. Texas offers the Virtual College of Texas whereby a student at any community college in the state can attend classes from any of the state's 51 community colleges or four Texas State Technical College campuses, paying local tuition plus a VCT fee of around $40.

California has the lowest community college enrollment fees in the nation. California's community college enrollment fee is $20 per unit.

[edit] Educational offerings

Community colleges generally offer three types of programs.

The first type of study is toward an associate's degree, in which a student takes necessary courses needed to earn a degree that will allow for entry into jobs requiring some level of college education but not a full four-year degree. The associate's degree program also allows students who wish to eventually obtain a bachelor's degree at a four-year college to complete the necessary "core" requirements to attend the college of their choice. Some states have mandated that the community college's curriculum be structured so as to satisfy "core curriculum" requirements at the state's public universities or private universities.

Many community colleges have arrangements with nearby four-year institutions, where a student obtaining an associate's degree in a field will automatically have his/her classes counted toward the bachelor's degree requirement. For example, a community college associate's degree in hotel and restaurant management, computers or accounting would count toward the four-year school's core requirement for a Business Administration degree. Some have gone one step further by arrangements with a four-year college for the student to obtain the bachelor's degree from the four-year college while taking all the courses via distance learning or other non-traditional modes, thus reducing the number of physical visits to the four-year school.

The second type of study is towards certification in an area of training (such as nursing, computer repair, or welding), which require preparation for a state or national examination, or where certification would allow for hiring preference or a higher salary upon entering the workforce. These courses are often geared toward the needs of the local or area business community.

The third type offers services of local interest to members of the community, such as job placement, adult continuing education classes (either for personal achievement or to maintain certification in specialized fields), and developmental classes for children. Some community colleges offer opportunities for high school dropouts to return to school and earn a high school diploma or obtain a GED.

[edit] Community colleges offering bachelor's degrees

A growing trend in the United States is for community colleges to begin offering bachelor's degrees. At least fourteen states have authorized them to do so and others are considering the issue.[3] Many large community colleges, such as Miami-Dade College and St. Petersburg College, in Florida have even completely dropped the words "community" or "junior" from their names as they have added bachelor's degree programs in limited fields and have started their evolution into four-year colleges while retaining their local commitments. Even some smaller community colleges, such as Northern New Mexico College in Española, New Mexico, have dropped community from their names and now offer six or more bachelor's degrees.[4] Others such as Manatee Community College, in Florida, have chosen not to go beyond the associate's degree.[5]

[edit] Advantages of community colleges

  • Community colleges are geared toward local students and local needs.[6] Students who could not afford campus or off-site housing at a four-year college, or for other reasons cannot relocate, can attend courses while staying in their local community (though some colleges do offer student housing). Also, community colleges can work with local businesses to develop customized training geared toward local needs, whereas a four-year institution generally focuses on state-wide or national needs.[7] Some community colleges have "concurrent enrollment" programs, allowing local high school students to "jump start" their college career by taking classes at the community college that count both toward their high school diploma and as college credit (mainly in core areas such as history and political science). Policies and classes offered vary with different agreements existing between the community college and high schools.
  • The "open enrollment" policy allows anyone to begin the goal towards future college education. The policy is highly beneficial to students with mediocre academic records in high school, students who dropped out or got expelled and later obtained a GED, students who never took the SAT and/or ACT, students "maturing" later in life who now see the benefits of college education, or students who could not attend college after high school but now have the chance to do so.
  • In North America, tuition and fees are substantially lower than those of a traditional four-year public or private institution. Students from low-income families, those having to work to pay for their education, or those simply wishing to reduce the total cost of a planned four year education benefit from the reduced costs.[8] In addition, many colleges offer and accept scholarships or educational grants.
  • Community colleges have little or no time limits on when classes must be taken or a degree must be earned; in contrast, many four-year schools, tired of "professional students" taking up limited space, have imposed limits on when a degree can be earned. Students who cannot take a full-time load for whatever reason (family, job, etc.), are thus not under pressure to complete courses in a limited timeframe.
  • Four-year colleges often give priority to students transferring from community colleges, citing their demonstrated preparedness for junior and senior college-level work. Students who may not have been able to attend a particular college after high school (whether for academic, financial, or personal reasons) may now be able to attend the college of their choice. Several states have regulations requiring the associate's degree in a particular field to be automatically credited towards the core curriculum for a four-year degree at another state university or private university.
  • Community college professors are solely dedicated to teaching, and classes are generally small. In comparison, a four-year college course may be taught to 300 students by a teaching assistant, while the professor is concentrating on research. Most professors at community colleges have Master's degrees and many hold doctoral degrees. In addition, community college professors can help students achieve their goals, work more closely with them, and offer them support, while at a four-year college, a professor's primary mission is to conduct academic research, with most of their remaining attention focused on mentoring graduate students.
  • A number of community colleges have athletic programs; certain colleges also serve as incubators for college athletes, particularly in basketball and football. A talented player who would not meet the academic or athletic standards of a major college program may be able to play for two years in junior college, establishing an academic record in the process, and then transfer to the major college.[9] In addition, many baseball players at community colleges have gone to play for major colleges and/or the major leagues. Others offer no athletic programs.[citation needed]
  • Research shows that there is no learning or income penalty for individuals who start at a community college and transfer to a four-year institution. Additionally, research indicates that students who begin their higher education career at a community college are more likely to transfer to a higher quality four-year institution than if they had started at a four-year college.[citation needed]
  • Holders of a two-year associates degree have more immediate earning potential than students with >2 years of higher education but did not earn a degree.[citation needed]

[edit] Disadvantages of community colleges

  • Transferring credits can sometimes be a problem, as each four-year college has its own requirements as to what is and isn't required for enrollment. However, many four-year colleges (usually near the community college) have made arrangements, known as articulation agreements, allowing associate degrees to qualify for transfer, and in some cases allowing the student to complete the bachelor's degree via distance learning from the community college campus. Some states have passed rules whereby certain associate's degrees in a field will automatically transfer to state universities as the core curriculum for specified bachelor's degrees. Minnesota has created a statewide "transfer curriculum" allowing credits to be transferred to any other public university and almost all of the private colleges. The North Carolina system has a similar agreement, whereby specific courses are designated for mandatory transfer credit to all statewide public four-year institutions. Illinois' I-transfer program program aids students in transferring credits across the state. California has a system known as Assist[2] which labels course equivalencies between all California Community Colleges and California public four-year colleges. In Arizona, the completion of the Arizona General Education Curriculum, or AGEC, at any Arizona community college guarantees residents of Arizona admission to any public university in the state of Arizona. And in Florida, students earning associate degrees from community colleges actually receive preferential admissions treatment, in comparison to all other students transferring to state universities.
  • It is frequent for many courses to be taught by part-time lecturers holding a master's degree (or bachelor's degree) in the field, although there is little evidence, other than anecdotal, to indicate that taking a class from a full-time college instructor leads to higher order learning outcomes. Research conducted by the University of Washington's Labor Center, however, has suggested that community colleges relying on a higher part-time (adjunct) faculty workforce have lower graduation rates than those with a full-time workforce - see http://insidehighered.com/news/2006/10/16/parttime. According to federal statistics, 42% of public community college freshmen take remedial courses, and further studies show that 79% of remedial courses are taught by part-time faculty.[10]
  • Many community colleges lack on-campus housing (most common in urban area colleges; rural area colleges are more likely to offer such housing due to the overall lack of housing in such areas). This creates so-called 'commuter campuses', in which nearly all students commute to class only, with the campus completely deserted during off-hours. This makes participation in group collaboration exercises and study groups difficult to coordinate, and extra-curricular activities suffer as well. In turn, the social benefits of college are essentially lost, which can adversely affect future professional employment opportunities.
  • Research shows individuals with Associate's degrees earn less than those with Bachelor's degrees. However, because a correlation exists between years of education and earnings, this says more about years of schooling than the value of Associate's degrees or certificates.[citation needed]
  • Community colleges typically have smaller libraries than universities, possibly reducing the research opportunities of their students (though libraries may be part of an interlibrary loan agreement with other libraries at universities). This is also somewhat less of an issue today due to the proliferaton of online academic databases, for which community college students may share equal access with their bigger State University cousins and/or private universities.
  • Community colleges might have fewer sections available for students to enroll. For example, there might be only one section in higher physics while a four-year college might have four or five sections of its equivalent. Some equivalent lower-division classes required for the major may not be offered. However, many community colleges have concurrent enrollment programs with local universities which permits students to complete the required lower division courses prior to transferring.
  • There is a historic connotation that community colleges are often considered the schools of last resort, which some feel hurts their reputation.[11] Community Colleges have a tendency to feel like an extended version of high school -- some bright students, many average, and more than a few less desirable ones. Bright students may feel frustrated by the lack of academic challenge, since community college instructors are often perceived to have lowered their standards, and since the majority of class offerings tend to center around remedial education in English (basic writing) and mathematics (e.g., introductory algebra).[citation needed]

[edit] Community college libraries

Community college libraries, sometimes called learning resource centers, have evolved over their existence. These libraries often include traditional library services such as book checkout, online research tools, and research help, but they also have included multimedia technology expertise, video centers, tutor centers and support services. Community college libraries play a significant role in the college curriculum by supporting information literacy across campus. The librarians spend a significant amount of their work week in the classroom teaching students to select research tools, to evaluate search results, and to use their results in papers, speeches, or in other projects. For this reason, community college librarians are considered full faculty members at most institutions.[citation needed] If sufficient funding is provided, community college libraries may be at the cutting edge of research services and may be able to change faster than their larger cousins at major research institutions.[citation needed]

[edit] Timeline of important events

1901 – Joliet, IL added fifth and sixth year courses to the high school curriculum leading to the development of the first public junior college.[12]

1920 – American Association of Junior Colleges established.

1930 – First publication of the Community College Journal.

1947 – Publication of Higher Education for American Democracy by the President's Commission on Higher Education (the 1947 Truman Commission).

1965 – Higher Education Act of 1965 established grant programs to make higher education more accessible.

1992 – The American Association of Junior Colleges change their name to the American Association of Community Colleges.

[edit] See also

In Australia:

In the UK:

[edit] North American community college systems

[edit] External links

[edit] Notes

  1. ^ Roberta Couch, Tom Jamison, Doug Stine, Susan Johnston, Rene Lynch, and Judy Sisk, Foothill College: 25 Years (Los Altos Hills: Foothill College, 1981), 10.
  2. ^ Golden, Daniel. "Online University Enrollment Soars" The Wall Street Journal. 15 May, 2006.
  3. ^ http://goforward.harpercollege.edu/uploaded/bachelordegree/harperbachsum.pdf
  4. ^ http://www.nnmc.edu/about/BaccalaureatePrograms.shtml
  5. ^ http://www.sun-herald.com/Newsstory.cfm?pubdate=013107&story=tp6np18.htm&folder=NewsArchive2
  6. ^ Irving Pressley McPhail, "Top 10 reasons to attend a community college," Community College Week 17, no. 11 (3 January 2005): 4-5.
  7. ^ M.H. Miller, "Four-year schools should take more cues from community colleges, some educators say," Community College Week 17, no. 9 (6 December 2004): 3-4.
  8. ^ John Merrow, Community Colleges: The Smart Transfer, The New York Times, April 22, 2007.
  9. ^ Robert Andrew Powell, Community College: Tennis in a Parking Lot, The New York Times, April 22, 2007
  10. ^ John Merrow, Community Colleges: A Harsh Reality, The New York Times, April 22, 2007.
  11. ^ Beth Frerking, Community Colleges: For Achievers, a New Destination, The New York Times, April 22, 2007.
  12. ^ John Merrow, Community Colleges: Dream Catchers, The New York Times, April 22, 2007.

[edit] References

  • Baker, G. A. III (1994). A handbook on the community college in America: Its history, mission, and management. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press.
  • Cohen, A.M., Brawer, F.B. (2003) The American Community College, 4th edition. San Francisco: Jossey Bass.
  • Dougherty, K. J. (1994). The contradictory college: The conflicting origins, impacts, and futures of the community college. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press.
  • Floyd, D.L., Skolnik, M.L., & Walker, K.P. , eds. (2005). The Community College Baccalaureate: Emerging Trends and Policy Issues. Sterling VA: Stylus Publishing.
  • Frye, J. H. (1992). The vision of the public junior college, 1900-1940. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press.
  • Kasper, H. T. (2002). The changing role of community college. Occupational Outlook Quarterly, 46(4), 14-21.
  • Murray, J.P (2002). The current state of faculty development in two-year colleges. New Directions for Community Colleges, 118, 89-97.
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