Archived

This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

cloudship

Community Colleges

9 posts in this topic

I work for a state college. In particular, a community college of about 7,000-8,000 students (although a majority of them are non-full time or non matriculating). It's the start of the semester, and of course that brings up discussions about enrollment, funding, budget, and focus. This is also coupled by the recent announcement that our state is going to cut every agencies budget by 5%.

This is a pretty open thread. I want to discuss the role of community colleges, how we fund and pay for those services, and what they can add to the community. So any comments are welcome here.

One thing that came to light recently, is that funding at the state level is one allotment that is really pretty independent of enrollment, and since tuition and fees don't come close to covering the cost of the education, it is actually more costly to have high enrollment than low enrollment. Is this the correct way to fund community colleges? But considering most students enrol in classes within a few days (either before or after!) the start of classes, is there another option?

Another issue is what is the role of community colleges. There is big talk in our state of how community colleges are graduating fewer and fewer students with Associate Degrees. But is this the right focus? At our college, much of our enrollment is in ESL and basic adult education. Many students come here either to gain some work skills, earn certificates, or get some classes in to transfer directly to a 4 year school. Yet there is big talk of combining the community colleges with state colleges.

Well, discuss away!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites


Forgive me for missing something - what state are you in?

I don't know the NC specifics, but I think enrollments are way up here, in some areas at least, due to textile and tobacco declines, and state spending on education really hasn't kept up. Most of the people I know in the Triangle who have gone to Durham Tech or Alamance have transferred into 4-years schools, and I know people who are doing this in their 30s and 40s, so there's a lot of shifting around to try to enhance career potential, though getting into the 4-year schools is not getting any easier. Perhaps the community colleges need to expand the range of what they offer and blur the boundaries between "community college" and "university," but that won't happen anytime soon, if ever.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The community colleges around here look to be doing quite well. The campuses are very nice and always seem to be expanding their facilities. They also have a good relationship with the four year schools in the state. In fact, you can get dual enrollment to CC and Portland State, a four year school.

I see most people attending CC are in one of two groups. There are those who are learning a specific trade and there are those who want to save money before transferring to a four year school. Saving money is relative, though, as a full rack of classes at the CC will still run you about a grand per term. That is half what it would cost at the four year schools, though.

I think the CC system is a hugely important cog in the education machine.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm a huge booster of community colleges. Both of my degrees are from Florida Community College, and I am totally happy with my education which I think was top notch. Cutting the budgets of community colleges is insane. Our country needs as many educated people as we can possibly have. Community Colleges are a must for our nation.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Community Colleges are great. I have three separate degrees from two different schools. I went mostly part time with the exception of two semesters. I could take the classes I needed when I needed them and they were completely relative to my job. I received a promotion or new job after each degree I obtained that more than covered my tuition.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It seems as if the focus in my area is more lately on worker retraining as many textile factory and furniture plants have laid off several workers.

However, the local community college, Forsyth Tech, did receive a $5m federal grant to lead four other community colleges nationwide in the development of the National Center for Biotechnology Workforce. (along with New Hampshire Community College, Indian Hills Community College (Iowa), Bellevue Community College (Washington State), and Miracosta Community College (California))

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I taught drafting for two years at a tech school and we were hurting for people in the program. When I left, there were only two people signed up to begin the drafting degreeprogram. There were seven the year before. I think most of it was because manufacturing jobs had dried up in the town, and there ws a fantastic tech school less than an hour away.

We really need to do more vo-tech classes in high school geared towards those who aren't going to college. i really think that would help improve the dropout rate.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Some of the funding should be based on enrollment, though not all... there is a natural momentum with enrollment movements that favors positive growth. Declining enrollment is often catastrophic to schools.

A good example, is say, for example, in year 1 you have 100 students in a program served by 4 teachers. The next year, for whatever reason, you have only 90 students and can no longer afford 4 teachers, so you cut 1. Now you have 90 students served by 3 teachers, an increase of 5 students per section.

It could be equalized by offering a "3-year average" enrollment funding plan.. so that sudden increases or drops from year to year don't result in erratic funding for teachers.

Otherwise, community colleges should serve students not just for 2 year degrees, but for building resumes and gaining certificates. It's a good system and shouldn't be looked down upon.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites


The state is Massachusetts, I initially didn't want to bring that in because I wanted an overview across the country, but with the whole budget issue blowing up in the state I guess you would figure that one out soon enough.

I noticed that many people see community colleges as stepping stones to 4 year schools. That is actually a big thing with us as well. But there is a whole other side to the school - perhaps the larger side, where degrees and such are irrelevant. We are located in a smaller urban area, one which has a large number of immigrants and non-english speaking residents. We have a number of students who come in taking basic language skills, English as a second language, basic math, and GED programs. We also see people who aren't looking for a degree, but to take classes in a few specific subjects. We have nursing programs and several joint programs with various large corporations looking for worker training.

What we face is a huge budget problem, which is often caused by applying traditional thinking to non-traditional types of enrollment. While our budget is not based on attendance figures, it is based upon assumptions about basic graduation rates. It is also done at purely state level, and rarely is reflective of the community. For instance, while nursing is a popular choice, and has a waiting list years long, the school looses money on each student, as the state funding and tuition don't come close to covering those costs.

I wonder how Community Colleges, which are geared towards non-traditional students, could better serve their communities. And how could community colleges seek different funding?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.