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ERIC Number: EJ995747
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2012-Apr-22
Pages: N/A
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: N/A
ISSN: ISSN-0009-5982
Education for All? 2-Year Colleges Struggle to Preserve Their Mission
Gonzalez, Jennifer
Chronicle of Higher Education, Apr 2012
The open-door policy at community colleges is unique in American higher education. It allows all comers--a retired grandmother, an Army veteran, a laid-off machinist--to learn a skill or get a credential. That broad access--the bedrock of the community-college system--has prepared hundreds of millions of people for transfer to four-year colleges or entry into the work force. But these days, the sector finds itself in a fight to save that signature trademark. As budgets dwindle and the pressure to graduate more students grows, community-college educators from instructors to presidents worry about the future. Less state and local money is making its way to college coffers, prompting painful choices. And the clarion call for the sector to produce more graduates, part of a nationwide effort to boost education levels, has forced colleges to use scarce resources for degree programs rather than for remedial courses. The focus now is on the best-prepared students, and not on those who may never graduate. Community colleges foresee a day when access to all is no longer the norm but the exception. Such a shift would profoundly affect the millions of low-income and minority students who look to attend community colleges every year, many of whom need remedial education first. As priorities shift, remedial students are not the only targets. College officials say they feel pressure to scale back or cut other programs that don't lead directly to certificates or associate degrees. Among those are English as a second language and general-equivalency diploma courses. For those services, colleges are redirecting students to other providers: (1) public schools; (2) libraries; (3) nonprofits; and (4) local government agencies. Such changes are difficult, but as budgets shrink and pressure grows--along with enrollment--they may be inevitable. Yet such new policies, some administrators argue, will compromise the many missions of community colleges. At the same time, demographic shifts are likely to result in more community-college enrollees. Right now, nearly half of all minority undergraduates attend a community college and the U.S. Census projects that minority populations are growing. Many of those future students will probably turn to community colleges. They will need an open door.
Chronicle of Higher Education. 1255 23rd Street NW Suite 700, Washington, DC 20037. Tel: 800-728-2803; Tel: 202-466-1000; Fax: 202-452-1033; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Postsecondary Education; Two Year Colleges
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Arizona; California; Maryland; Michigan; New York; Texas