Community Colleges get a lukewarm rap…again…and I want to do something about it!

Posted on February 28, 2013. Filed under: Uncategorized |

According to a Gallup poll released on February 5, only 19% of Americans “strongly agree” that community colleges offer high-quality education.  (America’s Call for Higher Education Redesign: The 2013 Lumina Foundation Study of the American Public’s Opinion on Higher Education). 19% sounds low to me – but, only 29% of Americans “strongly agreed” that traditional colleges and universities offer high-quality education. (I think that low number surprises me more). I was not as surprised to read that only 11% of Americans “strongly agree” that online colleges and universities offer high-quality education. 

I guess I shouldn’t be depressed by these data – but rather, use them as the springboard to reflect [again] on what community college can do to improve our images and better serve students. Instead of getting depressed about what I can’t control (other people’s views of community colleges), I can do something about what I can control. I think that as a sector and individually in our own communities, community colleges need to do a better job of educating our constituents on the fantastic work that we do – and on a budget that is a fraction of that enjoyed by our 4-year college neighbors. 

Recently I was speaking to a high school guidance counselor who said, “you know, community college is no one’s first choice.” Well, in my region that might be true, but it still stung to hear it articulated so plainly – and it stuck with me for days. We may not be many students’ first choice, but we are still many students’ best choice. 

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