Harvard or community college?

Where should collegebound students go in the fall: Harvard or their local community college? Consider community college over a high-priced university, advises John Hrabe, a graduate fellow at the USC Annenberg Center on Communication Leadership and Policy, on the Huffington Post.

Community colleges are the best value in higher education, he argues. Two-year colleges offer instruction that’s just as good as what four-year insitutions provide, but without the massive debt.

College debt is supposed to be “good debt,” but a degree no longer guarantees a middle-class job that generates enough income to pay off loans, Hrabe writes. Graduates can’t discharge their loans through bankruptcy

By 2012, the nation will hold more than $1 trillion of this inescapable debt, with the average graduate’s burden at $24,000.

In a depressed economy, many more college graduates are taking jobs that don’t require a degree, writes Hrabe.

Some may try to start their own businesses, but debt saps the entrepreneurial spirit. Debt-ridden graduates can’t take the risk or get loans to try a new idea.

Community college is a low-cost alternative, Hrabe writes.

A decade ago, for just $12 per unit, I completed my general education requirements at a Los Angeles-area community college. At Moorpark College, I learned public speaking from one of the nation’s most accomplished speech programs, which has won nine national championships in 40 years. Had I taken the same class down the street at UCLA, I would have been taught by a second-year graduate assistant with no teaching experience.

Or worse, I might have been taught by a tenured university professor. Just as price doesn’t correlate to value, academic publications are not the best bellwether of quality instruction. The most accomplished academics are often the worst teachers. Without the pressure to publish, community college professors have more time to invest in their students.

Will young people keep mortgaging their futures to go to elite colleges?  Jane Shaw envisions a future in which the smart kids apply to Ha-Ya (Harvard and Yale have merged) for the honor of admission, then go to community college or virtual college or sign up with freelance professors to get an education.

It all started, Shaw writes, on May 28, 2010, when “Your Money” columnist Ron Lieber wrote about  Cortney Munna, a graduate of New York University who owed $97,000 in student loans and works for a photographer earning $22 an hour.


POSTED BY Joanne Jacobs ON May 5, 2011

Comments & Trackbacks (3) | Post a Comment

[…] On Community College Spotlight: Where should collegebound students go in the fall: Harvard or their local community college? […]

Joseph Kaye

If there’s a choice between Harvard and the local community college, I’d say the choice is clear: Harvard. The networking alone would be worth the expense. That being said, there’s very few students making the choice between Harvard and the local cc. Most are choosing between an out-of-town state university or the local community college, and the decision there is also clear: the local cc.

Moira Rogow

Harvard hands down! The community colleges here are a joke. Not much better than High School. None of the flagship Universities here will give transfer credits from the CCs. They even advise the students not to take any classes in the summer as they will not transfer. Of course, this is with good reason. The CCs here are very weak. If you attend for two years you will have little to show for it if you try and transfer to a four year school. I cannot imagine telling a college ready senior to go to CC instead of a university.

Your email is never published nor shared.