The Community College Trend

Community College Classroom

Education is the key to greater opportunities, but with steadily increasing costs, higher education has continued to be out of reach for many American families. In today's economy, greater credit is now being given to the value of the nation's community colleges, as more and more attention is drawn not only to the opportunities available at a more affordable cost, but also to the economic need for more skilled workers who are qualified to fill a growing number of job openings.

Through community colleges, more and more people are able to pursue their career and academic goals and come out with less student debt than they would if they attended a traditional four-year college. Many make the decision to save money by completing the first two years of a degree program at the community college level and then transferring to a four-year college. In addition, many people choose to attend community college because they are able to complete career training or certifications in a short amount of time, with some programs taking a year or less to complete. Upon completion, they are ready to enter the workforce.

In 2010, the first White House Summit on Community Colleges was held to begin conversations about the role community colleges have in helping reach President Obama's goal for the United States to be the world leader in producing college graduates by the year 2020. In addition, the President launched Skills for America's Future, an initiative to connect the nation's industries and community colleges to ensure that students gain the skills while attending community college that they need in order fill available roles upon entering the workforce. These initiatives have added to the attention being given to community colleges and the role they play in today's economy.

As a greater number of jobs are being created that require more than a high school education, the economy relies on community colleges to produce qualified job candidates to fill those roles. Community colleges provide opportunities for higher education to segments of the population who may not otherwise have access to it. Single parents, immigrants, veterans, and full- and part-time workers are drawn to community colleges for their affordability, convenience, and flexible schedules.

For those who are unemployed, have been struggling with their job search, or are unhappy with their current employment and are looking for a career change, community college should be considered as an option. From simply taking a class or two to learn a new skill, to making the commitment to earn a certificate or a degree in an entirely new field, community colleges are a valuable resource available to all types of learners in all stages of life.