Eric Christensen Carlos Schroder
English 111 – 283A
5th December 2017
Community Colleges Facing Challenges
According to the U.S. Department of Education there are 1,462 community colleges across the United States. Of these, 1,047 are public institutions and 415 private( USDOE.com). Community colleges are two year institutions that provides the surrounding community with the opportunity of higher education and a path to a bachelors degree. They provide training for workforce development and skills. They also provide a range of non credit programs such as community enrichment programs and cultural activities. Community colleges are recognized for providing cheap and affordable education in a supportive atmosphere. However, community colleges are being stressed out due to the challenges that they are facing from different aspects like the economy, politics and declining enrollment. Each aspect has an enormous impact on the way community colleges function (economicmodeling.com).
The economy has a surprising manner of affecting community colleges since the 2008 financial crisis and still lingers on today (USNEWS.com). Especially in regard to funding and enrollment which affects community colleges in an inversely connected manner. As the economy grows there is room for the state to provide community colleges with an increase in funding but, according to a study from Georgetown University’s center on education and workforce, there are more than 70 percent of college students that work while attending school (CNBC.com). As the economy improves, it will cause a good number of those students working to go and find jobs because the market is improving and so are the chances of getting employed. Since enrollment counts as a significant source of income for community colleges ( forecast5analytics), it will lead to enrollment to fall drastically. This will cause colleges to cut down on employees and other services. On the other hand, if the economy worsens, enrollment will increase because people that are looking for work will take it as an opportunity to increase their job prospects, as there are less jobs in the market, by going to community college (CommunityCollegeReview). Since community colleges have an open admissions policy, it will also lead to college populations to always be overcrowded, leaving community college resources stretched out as they will not have enough resources to provide for all. Not to mention the government will have to cut back funding to allocate its resources on important areas in time of economic downturn, which will result in community colleges having less funding for improvement on infrastructure, providing lab equipment and new furniture for classes because state funding is the main source of community college funds to provide materials for students and faculty.
The other problem community colleges have with enrollment and funding is balancing both or one having less of a financial impact than the other as enrollment and funding are inversely connected. Colleges are trying to find ways of increasing enrollment without it being affected by the economy, and there is a factor stopping them from being able to do just that, the media. The Chronicle, a publication that has a newsletter entirely centered on reporting the news about community colleges which it includes articles such as, “Community-College Dropouts Cost Taxpayers Nearly $1-Billion a Year” and “Success Programs at Community Colleges -Often Offered, Rarely Required-Miss Many Students”, these are the new criticism community colleges face and such criticism has great influence in the decision making of individuals wanting to go to community colleges and private investors wanting to invest in them, as community colleges rarely have many private investors (commons.trincoll.edu).
Community colleges face many problems in regard to their students and individuals wanting to be students. Especially when it comes to keeping students in school. There are many factors that affect community colleges when it comes to their students such as, low completion rates, remedial courses, lack of preparation and guidance and the portrayal of community college. Majority of the students that go to community college come from low-performing high schools, when these students do the placement tests, a good number of them do not pass. This leads community colleges to place such students in remedial classes, the problem community colleges have is the attitude the students and professors have toward the classes as they are frustrated with teaching students courses they should know in high school including English and math. The reason community colleges do not like students attitude towards remedial classes is because they do not see it as a opportunity to learn things their high schools did not teach them and because many students eventually grow tired of the classes as it slows down their academic ventures and they drop out. But then of course there are other factors that lead to these students dropping out. Many of these individuals are not physically and mentally prepared for the rigorous of college and many of them being the first in their families to ever go to college, so they are not with using college resources to better themselves and improving their grades. In addition, many students that balance work and school are a perfect example, according to Kathy Pierre, 17 hours of studying is needed on average for a college student, which is a huge disadvantage to a lot of people that cannot handle the stress of working all day and going to school, then having to study for exams, tests and quizzes for two years (communitycollegetransferstudents.com).
With large numbers of students dropping out of colleges it will lead to completion rates to drop and this affects community college enrollment, as many individuals use the completion rates of colleges to determine their chances of finishing their course on time, and with low completion rates means low enrollments.
With the various challenges community colleges are facing in today’s world, the trump administration is the biggest. According to Inside Higher Ed, the trump administration’s budget proposal for 2018 results in the expectation for drastic cuts in student aid programs and reshaping of federal student loan programs. These cuts could make college less affordable to many wishing to attend community college. The document calls for a reduction of 13.6% to the Department of Education’s current funding levels.plus, the elimination of Public Service Loan forgiveness and changes to the income-based repayment program. Such proposals can make graduates and under-graduates that are thinking of going back to college or pursuing more courses, to completely lose support for programs that helped them into college, including grants. “This budget is a recipe for more student debt, more inequality and less affordability,”(Lauren Asher), president of the Institute for College Access and Success. It would only lead to people that attend and those that want to attend community college, to find out that they do not have the means to pay for community college (InsideHigherEd.com). In addition to that, Virginia state law makers are also frustrated by the challenges community colleges face because about 38 percent of the 250,000 students at Virginia’s community colleges attend part time, which is one of the reasons why 61 percent of them don’t complete their associate or bachelor’s degrees (richmond.com), because many of them realize that the degrees and skills they want to pursue have no relevance to employers. This lead to House Appropriations Chairman S. Chris Jones, R-Suffolk to find money for the new Workforce Credentials Grant program to meet the demands of businesses and the labour force.
Once again, community colleges face many challenges from different aspects like the economy, politics and declining enrollment. These aspects weigh in heavily on the functions of community colleges, with the upcoming proposal by the trump administration in 2018, colleges will have to increase tuition to be able to provide the needs of the community which will cause them to have lack of support from people in the community (time.com). As they were first established to be community centered colleges providing affordable education and a path way to even higher education, are now being portrayed as turning their backs on the community which lead to people seeking out colleges that are not community colleges. Leaving many community colleges redundant because they cannot meet the changing demands of the community due to the challenges they face.
A Guest Author. “The Disadvantages of Working During College.” Community College Transfer to Ivy League, Tier 1 or Any University, 9 Aug. 2012, www.communitycollegetransferstudents.com/the-disadvantages-of-working-during-college/
Bowman, Karlyn, and Heather Sims. “Still Feeling the Crash.” US NEWS & World Report , 30 Sept. 2015, www.usnews.com/opinion/economic-intelligence/2015/09/30/americans-still-arent-over-the-2008-financial-crisis.
Chen, Grace. “The Surprising Effect of the Recession on Community College Enrollment.” CommunityCollegeReview.com, 13 May 2017, www.communitycollegereview.com/blog/the-surprising-effect-of-the-recession-on-community-college-enrollment.
Clark, Kim. “College Board: Tuition Rose Faer Than Inflation in 2015 | Money.” Time, Time.com, 4 Nov. 2015, time.com/money/4098683/college-board-tuition-cost-rose-inflation-2015/.
Darby-Hudgens, Fionnuala. “Maintaining A Mission: The History of Community Colleges in the United States.” Educ 300 Education Reform Past and Present, 4 Apr. 2012, commons.trincoll.edu/edreform/2012/04/maintaining-a-mission-the-history-of-community-colleges-in-the-united-states/.
Kreighbaum, Andrew. “Trump Budget Would Slash Student Aid and Research.” White House Budget Includes Tens of Billions in Cuts to Student Aid and Research, Inside Higher ED, 24 May 2017, www.insidehighered.com/news/2017/05/24/white-house-budget-includes-tens-billions-cuts-student-aid-and-research.
Martz, Michael. “Va. Community College Challenges Frustrate State Lawmakers.” Richmond Times-Dispatch, 11 Sept. 2017, www.richmond.com/news/virginia/government-politics/va-community-college-challenges-frustrate-state-lawmakers/article_d25e7b88-7713-56fe-9d8f-36b7e171fa95.html.
Pierre, Kathy. “How Much Do You Study? Apparently 17 Hours a Week Is the Norm.” USA Today, Gannett Satellite Information Network, 18 Aug. 2014, college.usatoday.com/2014/08/18/how-much-do-you-study-apparently-17-hours-a-week-is-the-norm/.
“Regional Educational Laboratory Program (REL).” Institute of Education Sciences (IES) Home Page, a Part of the U.S. Department of Education, Regional Educational Laboratory Program (REL), ies.ed.gov/ncee/edlabs/projects/project.asp?projectID=4539.
Rapacon, Stacy, and special to CNBC.com. “Why Working through College Is Becoming Norm.” CNBC, CNBC, 29 Oct. 2015, www.cnbc.com/2015/10/29/more-college-students-are-working-while-studying.html
Sentz, Rob, and Rob Sentz Chief Innovation Officer. “The Top Challenges Facing Community Colleges and How Data Can Help.” Emsi, 10 Aug. 2017, www.economicmodeling.com/2017/08/10/top-challenges-facing-community-colleges-data-can-help/.