Once considered a refuge for high school graduates who were rejected by four-year institutions, community colleges today are increasingly the destination for those wanting to spend less for a quality education (“Middle-Class Families Increasingly Look to Community Colleges,” The New York Times, Apr. 8).
I completely understand their appeal. The truth is that enrollment in an elite college or university is no assurance of effective instruction. Professors are more concerned with their publications than with their pedagogy. In contrast, community college instructors have no such pressure. As a result, they can focus on teaching without fear of being dismissed. For students who have graduated from high school with deficits in particular, community college is a cost-effective way of getting back on track to graduation.
But even students who have graduated from high schools with excellent reputations are rethinking their decisions. For example, Pasadena City College had a 320 percent increase in the number of students whose parents make more than $100,000 a year. It’s a trend seen in other community colleges as well.
For high school graduates who want to learn a well-paying trade, community colleges are a bargain. Classes are taught by professionals who bring their expertise from years of experience in their respective fields to the classroom. Rather than pay thousands of dollars to for-profit trade schools, students get the same benefit for a fraction of the cost.
When I was working on my M.S. in journalism at UCLA in 1964, these schools were called junior colleges. The name change reflected their wider mission, which today is well deserved.
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