UCLA Education Professor Mike Rose, author of Back to School: Why Everyone Deserves a Second Chance at Education, talked to Eliana Osborn on the downside to thinking of community colleges as second-chance institutions.
One very important function of the community college is to provide a local and affordable education for young people coming straight from high school—or almost straight from high school. They might be coming for an associate degree, or for an occupational certificate, or to transfer to another college.
Depending on the community college, there might be a larger or smaller percentage of these students, but your point still holds: The community college has multiple functions and serves multiple populations, not all of whom are seeking a second chance.
Another liability, sadly, has to do with status. Community colleges already have a status problem in the hierarchy of American higher education, which should trouble us on a lot of levels. And those people who are seeking a second (or third or fourth) chance at education are also, on average, a relatively powerless group. So this second-chance designation can have its downsides, to be sure.
Community college faculty and administrators need to talk to students to get a sense of how to make the campus more accessible, Rose believes.
What is it like to find your way around if you’re new to the campus, or haven’t been in school for decades, or don’t speak English all that well? What is the experience of applying for financial aid like? Of using the tutoring center? What’s it feel like to be in the first math class you’ve taken in 20 years?
We need to rethink “the sharp divide between the academic and the vocational course of study” and develop “curricula that truly blend occupational and academic goals,” says Rose.
I couldn’t resist this: