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cloudship

What to do with a community college?

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I work for a community college. Today we had a discussion about our campus and our role in the community. As a 2 year public institution, we are seeing record enrollment. But we are also facing diminishing funding and in some cases loosing sight of goals as we struggle to meet demands.

One of the items discussed was how a Community College can fit to the goals and needs of the local community. How could community college be best leveraged as a means to drive the economy and improve the financial situation?

Most community colleges have active partnerships with local companies to train workers. Should the college focus on degree programs and matriculating students, should they focus more on local needs for specific trades? Should they perhaps be skills based, or even community function based as a kind of community center for public activities? What are your thoughts on Community Colleges, and in particular how they could and should grow and change to meet tomorrows demands?

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I think that a community college should certainly offer degrees, but they should work with the community to ensure that they are providing the degree programs that are in demand for their community, that way resources aren't wasted. Other degree programs that aren't doing so well should be cut. Community colleges aren't intended to offer the huge array of degree programs that universities do. They are intended to serve the needs of the community around it, hence "community" in their title :) .

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I think that community colleges need to be set up with two tracks.

One track is for those looking to continue education with a 4 year degree.

The other track is job oriented training.

Since you are public you surely are tied in with your states public university system. This should make the first track easy to manage. You are basicly looking to teach the basics, and let the university teach the more intricate and more expensive classes. While I am sure your staff is capable, it makes more sense to offer classes that would be usefull to anyone heading on to the Uni, and that transfer 100%. CC is a great place to go.

The trade based degrees such as say nursing or what have you needs to be treated like a university treats its majors. With career counseling, and focus on getting students to graduation and placing them into jobs.... then getting alumni donations from these newly minted workers.

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I think that community colleges need to be set up with two tracks.

One track is for those looking to continue education with a 4 year degree.

The other track is job oriented training.

Since you are public you surely are tied in with your states public university system. This should make the first track easy to manage. You are basicly looking to teach the basics, and let the university teach the more intricate and more expensive classes. While I am sure your staff is capable, it makes more sense to offer classes that would be usefull to anyone heading on to the Uni, and that transfer 100%. CC is a great place to go.

The trade based degrees such as say nursing or what have you needs to be treated like a university treats its majors. With career counseling, and focus on getting students to graduation and placing them into jobs.... then getting alumni donations from these newly minted workers.

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An interesting development in Mass is governor Patrick's plan to actually provide a free CC education. The details are not finalized yet, no one knows if this is just a tuition waiver or a full scholarship. And no one knows if this going to keep the schools going or sink them with increased enrollment with limited funds. But it will be very interested to see how this will effect the educational opportunities in the state.

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The strength of community colleges is their ability to change quickly and retool with regards to changing conditions. They are not burdened with enormous campuses their attendant bureacracy. If a new industry locates nearby, a community college can pivot and offer specialized training and instruction that caters to the new industry needs.

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