Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Community Colleges at the Heart of College Meltdown

Community college enrollment has dropped by 1.6 million students (23%) in the last six years.  Even worse, full-time enrollment at community colleges has dropped by 36% over the last 6 years. Source for Data: National Student Clearinghouse.

US college enrollment has dropped by about 2.5 million students over the last six years, but this College Meltdown has not been spread evenly.

For-profit colleges have been hardest hit in their percentage decline of students and campus closings. But community colleges, which may be the best educational value for working families, have been even harder hit in the sheer numbers who are not attending.

While the for-profit college crash has been well documented in the media, the crisis in community colleges has been under-reported.
For-profit colleges have seen a decline of about 600,000 students since their peak, but community college enrollment has declined even more, by 1.6 million.

[Image below:  Most US community colleges have seen enrollment declines. Data from National Center for Education Statistics]

The reaction to the community college downturn has ranged from punitive to progressive: reduced state and local funding, higher tuition, reduced student and family services, fewer teachers, lower educational standards--and free college tuition:
In 2003, 53% of all community colleges offered campus child care. In 2015, only 44% had it.
At the national level, the dearth of reporting on the community college downturn begs more questions:
  1. What community colleges have been hardest hit?
  2. What has happened to all the people who have decided not to go to a community college?
  3. Why do you think the enrollment crisis in US community colleges has been under-reported?

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