Higher Ed Competition Heats Up

Showing they are no dummies, leaders of community colleges are pressing hard to begin offering 4 year degrees. They are taking advantage of the recession and the cost sensitivity of consumers in making this move. Moreover, Obama’s recent proposals on higher ed call for $12 billion more for community colleges. From the AP article by David N. Goodman:

Obama announced a $12 billion proposal to increase community college graduates by 5 million by 2020. Community colleges now graduate about 1 million students a year. The president said the nation’s economic future depends on building a skilled work force.

“We will not fill those jobs — or keep those jobs on our shores — without the training offered by community colleges,” Obama said.

So far, community colleges have won the right to offer four-year degrees in Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Hawaii, Minnesota, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Texas, Vermont, Washington and West Virginia, the Community College Baccalaureate Association says. Legislative efforts to extend the practice could come soon in Arizona and California, said Beth Hagan, executive director of the Fort Myers, Fla.-based group.

There is no doubt that the leaders of community colleges are acting entrepreneurially in taking advantage of changed market forces. It will be interesting to see how traditional colleges and universities respond. (btw, recent reports suggest that private school matriculation is shrinking during this recession while community college enrollment is booming!).

2 thoughts on “Higher Ed Competition Heats Up

  1. Some of my favorite stories are those about people who go to community college after high school not because they were not “smart” enough to get into a 4 year but because they had yet to realize their academic potential. I know a group of people who flopped around for a few years after high school, spent a year at community college and before you knew it were neuroscience majors at UC Berkeley. We need community college not only to educate people for whom 4 year institutions are inaccessible (funds, location, scheduling), but also to give people who believed they were not meant to be educated to take their own time to succeed. Who says the track that society sets for us is the be all end all of one’s potential to be educated.

    I am also fascinated by projects that are geared towards communities who are misinformed about higher education, helping high school students with SAT prep and enrolling them in intensive college application programs to get them where they deserve to be. Check out the Posse Foundation (http://www.possefoundation.org) and Sparkseed venture I Need a Pencil (ineedapencil.org).

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