One word: Transfer

If he could say one thing to the public about community colleges, it wouldn’t be “plastics,” writes  Community College Dean. It would be “transfer.”

After years flying under the political radar, community colleges became visible during the Great Recession as the way to “get people in jobs now,” he writes.

Meanwhile, four-year institutions came under fire for graduating students with lots of debt and not-so-great job prospects.

If only there were some way to use community colleges to reduce the debt burdens of students who want four-year degrees.


Wait, it’s coming to me…


The political dialogue often ignores community colleges’ transfer role, the dean complains.

In the political world, it’s as if the population for which two-year colleges are relevant, and the population for which four-year colleges and universities are relevant, are completely separate.

. . . The “feeder” model of the community college — two years of gen ed here, followed by two more years at some other, more expensive place — can make a world of sense for many students.  You still get the high-toned degree, but you come out with much less debt.  Even better, you don’t spend your freshman year getting herded into 300-person auditoriums for your intro classes.

Acknowledging the transfer mission requires admitting “there aren’t two classes of institutions for two classes of people,”   the dean writes. “And it would require admitting that community colleges are, in fact, colleges.  Because they are.”