Community colleges are fighting an inferiority myth, writes Kerry Hart, president of Morgan Community College in Colorado. “A community college education is as good — or even superior to what universities offer during the first two years,” he argues in the Fort Morgan Times.
Community colleges have smaller class sizes and give students more individual attention. In addition, the academic courses taught at the freshman and sophomore levels are identical to those taught at the university (and that’s why in Colorado we have a common course numbering system with guaranteed transfer from any Colorado community college to any Colorado public four-year institution and virtually all of the private universities as well).
. . . Unlike universities, community colleges do not use teaching assistants. . . . many university faculty are hired to do research as their primary job responsibility, and community college faculty are committed to helping students become successful.
In addition, students are comparable at community colleges and universities, writes Hart. “One can find academically well-prepared, bright, capable, gifted and economically advantaged students in both settings.”
A small but growing number of community colleges are dropping the word “community,” reports USA Today. The Seattle Colleges and Henry Ford College in Michigan are the latest to make the change. Most Florida community colleges are now “state colleges.”
One motivation is “a desire to increase enrollments and to upgrade the traditional image of community colleges as a place where students go if they can’t get admitted anywhere else.”
In surveys for Seattle Colleges, for example, high school principals said students “were sometimes put off by the name ‘community college’ and would come if it was called a college,” says spokeswoman Susan Kostick.
Michigan’s Jackson College hopes the name change will help it recruit international students.
Community colleges “are constantly having to defend themselves to people who have no idea what those colleges do or how they do it, and who often evaluate their worth using criteria designed to assess four-year campuses,” writes Rob Jenkins, who teaches at Georgia Perimeter College.