Interesting article in the New York Times about the boom in community college enrollment.
Virtually every state is dealing with enrollment booms at community colleges, the American Association of Community Colleges says, with some in California reporting increases of 35 percent. The demand comes amid deep cuts to higher-education budgets, but also at a hopeful time for community colleges: President Obama recently announced a $12 billion plan to increase the number of community college graduates by five million by 2020.
To meet the demand, and to accommodate students who are otherwise occupied during “normal” hours, many community colleges are scheduling classes at odd times—we’re talking 2:30 AM here.
I just got a fancy mailing from my local Delaware County (Pennsylvania) Community College, announcing a 14 percent jump in enrollment and trumpeting a new Advanced Technology Center specializing in training for “green jobs.” There’s also a chart comparing DC-cubed’s annual tuition of $2,232 for a full course load with other local schools like Penn State ($14,708) and Villanova ($38.970).
I don’t want to romanticize community colleges, but I’m glad to see that more attention and resources are heading their way. The four-year, frat-house, football-cheering college model is in serious trouble, and to large extent it should be—there is a great deal of waste, luxury and nonsense built in to it. Ideally, community colleges cut to the chase, teaching people what they (and the U.S. economy) need, affordably, efficiently and conveniently, even if that means learning equations in the wee hours of the morning.