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May 13, 1988 - Image 43

Resource type:
Michigan Daily Summer Weekly, 1988-05-13

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

ave left for work: Spokane Falls Community College campus on the west side of town
- -

A fter several years of decline, en-
rollment in community col-
leges nationwide rose 3 percent
last year to more than 5 million, a
record high. But as state legislatures
continue to trim funding, doubts
grow about whether two-year public
colleges can continue to do it all: pro-
vide academic courses for students
interested in transferring as well as
vocational training for those who
want to prepare for jobs. Critics
charge that community colleges are
leaning too heavily on partnerships
with government and industry,
which helps them attract students
but may force them to expend too
much effort promoting the economic
growth of their regions. As a result,
community colleges are struggling
to redefine their role as places of
higher education.
Two-year institutions are a 20th-
century phenomenon, having begun
as private, junior colleges. Today
only 162 junior colleges still exist,
while 1,062 community colleges
saturate almost every state. Com-
munity colleges have succeeded
spectacularly in extending post-
secondary study to some minorities
and older students who might other-
wise never attend college; about 43
percent of all blacks and Asians in
higher education are in a communi-
ty college; for Hispanics and Native
Americans, the percentage is 54.
In recent years, the transfer rate
of Associate of Arts degree students
to four-year schools, however, has
hovered around 20 percent. And now
some educators worry that instead of
providing a doorway to the baccalau-
reate, community colleges have be-
come a dead end. To guard against
this, two-year schools must maintain
their educational purposes, accord-
ing to a commission headed by Er-
nest Boyer, president of the Carnegie
Foundation for the Advancement of
Teaching, which has been studying
the future of community colleges for
the past 18 months. Among other
recommendations, the report, due in
late April, will ask that all communi-
ty colleges require every associate
degree student to complete a core
general-education curriculum.
C. L.

Students 18 to 80: Hotel and restaurant management class learns meat-cutting

20, they have no idea what to do with their
lives. Breen graduated from high school
with a 2.0 GPA, which was too low to meet
university admission requirements. And
since he didn't particularly like high
school, says Breen, "I really didn't know if I
was going to like college and I didn't want
to spend thousands of dollars finding out."
As it turned out, he loved SFCC. He recent-
ly received an A.A. in business and is now
working for a local retail store that will pay
his tuition for one class per semester at
Eastern Washington, where he hopes to
earn a B.A. If he had gone at once to a
university, Breen says, "I would have got-
ten lost in the shuffle and probably dropped
out of school."
Indeed, research shows that there are

differences between students at a commu-
nity college and those at a university. "A
university freshman typically would be
more independent and self-starting, able to
use the library and find out information on
his own," says Arthur Cohen, professor of
higher education at UCLA. About half the
instruction at a four-year school goes on in
the classroom, authorities say, and the rest
in residence halls, libraries, lecture series
and events that go on around the campus.
At commuter schools like community col-
leges, says Cohen, "90 percent of the learn-
ing takes place in the classroom-the rest
is made up by a counseling center."
Because the students in any given class
come with such a broad range of academic
preparedness, ability and experience,

MAY 1988


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