By Amy Resnic
Role of community colleges
Community colleges are two-year institutions that are also commonly referred to as junior, technical, and city colleges. As an essential part of postsecondary education, the term "community college" is derived from the fact that they mainly attract and accept students from the local community. According to the American Association of Community Colleges, there are approximately 1,200 community colleges in the United States, serving approximately 6.5 million students, with an average age of 29. Community colleges pride themselves as providing educational opportunities to all who can benefit regardless of race, creed, or ethnic background. Programs offered at these colleges range from business management and marketing, to health and technical professions, and generally lead to an associate degree, certificate degree for a specified occupation, or a transfer to a four-year school.
Community colleges as part of the global economy
Community colleges are increasingly becoming part of the global economy, and not just part of the local community. Increased globalization of our economy has resulted in many jobs moving overseas. Competitiveness for jobs in the United States requires higher levels of skills than years ago. Recognizing that education has become vital to compete more effectively internationally, President Obama announced in July of 2009 a $12 billion initiative to boost graduation rates, improve facilities, and develop new technology at community colleges. This initiative is challenging community colleges to broaden their missions to train our workforce for the jobs of the future.
Benefits of choosing a community college versus a four-year school
Choosing the right community college
Many factors may play into the selection process when choosing a community college. The following steps are helpful in making the correct choice: