Comments: A pleasure.  Exhibits talent and creativity.  Maintains a positive attitude.  Is responsible and hard-working.

Currently, over 40% of all college students are enrolled at a community college.  That’s nearly 6 MILLION people.  For reasons both new and old, Community Colleges have never been more important to American higher education, nor has their reputation been stronger than it is in 2010.

Comments: Overlooked or dismissed out of hand.

But, too often, community colleges are not on a prospective student’s “radar” when they would make a legitimate, affordable and appropriate option.  They are overlooked or dismissed out of hand.  And I think this is a mistake that unnecessarily limits many adult and traditional students’ options.

Let’s take a look at the grades.  From what I can see, it’s all “straight A’s”:

A – AMERICAN.  While universities were existence long before Columbus did, or did not, discover America, community colleges – while in existence elsewhere – are by and large an American creation of the 20th century.  They were built to serve the tired, the poor, the masses.  And they still do, with an independence and pride that reminds one of their roots.

A – ACCESS. Community Colleges were meant to provide education to people who would not otherwise go to college.  In an age when college has increasingly become a necessary “tool in the tool belt” for the individual seeking employment, community colleges, while still providing certificates and associate degrees have become even more important as a proper gateway to bachelor degrees.  In fact, there is now growth in the area of 2+2+2 programming – community college to Masters tracts.

A – AFFORDABLE. In the economy we currently live in, the low-cost option of community colleges is as relevant as it has ever been.

A – ADULTS – Although an important part of the community college enrollment growth of the 21st century has been traditional students, adult students – part of the reason community colleges developed in the first place – continue to be vital to the success of these schools.  Community Colleges have programs, services and schedules designed to meet the needs of adults.

A- ADAPTIVE – And Community Colleges are poised to continue to meet those needs.  With a commitment to serving the local community and serving students of all ages, they have the initiative and skills to adjust to changes in professional fields, implement new modes of academic delivery and provide resources for new learning styles, methods and concerns.

A – ACCEPTED – Maybe the “A” that they can be most proud of, Community Colleges are increasingly accepted for the value of what they do.  In New Jersey, it’s called “full faith in transfer’.  But most other colleges have a variation on the same theme.  If you finish an associate degree in New Jersey and move on to a 4-year college in New Jersey, your credits are accepted in “full faith”.  You come in as a junior.  This was not always the case.  But now, it is increasingly harder to argue why you don’t want to take a course for $300 at the community college that would cost $1000, $2000 or $3000 at a four-year institution.  For more information on transferring from a community college in New Jersey to a 4-year institution, check out http://www.njtransfer.org/

A – ALWAYS.  Today, more and more of us are becoming “lifetime learners”.  It might be a Masters or Doctoral degree.  But it might also be a professional certificate to gain a management position or to change careers.  It might be a set of business courses with a specific skill set.  It might be a course or two (credit or non-credit) in an area we always wanted to learn more about (ceramics, the 60’s, family nutrition).    And those are all areas where the community college can provide a convenient, affordable choice.

So, based on their last report card, I have to say that – whether you are 17, 47 or 97 – community colleges are a great option to further your education.

Below is a link to a great video promoting the benefits of community colleges, including Nassau Community College alumnus Billy Crystal and Jim Lehrer, Victoria College alum.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/arne-duncan/community-colleges-the-ga_b_752982.html

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