The Washington Post

Is community college the best value in academia?

In today’s Post, I discuss a shift in the college-admissions landscape: A growing number of affluent families seem to be choosing community college for their children.

For the community college sector, an influx of middle- and upper-income students is a big deal. Community colleges have been long regarded as a refuge for students who could not afford to attend four-year colleges — even as a sort of higher-education last resort.

But two-year colleges also offer a unique model of pedagogical value. Many states have developed smooth pathways of transfer from two-year to four-year colleges. It is now quite realistic to enroll at a community college in Virginia with an expectation of eventual transfer to the University of Virginia, or to enter a community college in California intent on transfer to Berkeley. (In a sense, that trend and this one are two sides of the same coin.)

The downturn has disrupted the college-at-any-cost mindset among Washington’s prosperous. Parents and students now shop for value.

Have you considered community college as a pathway to a four-year degree? Do you think four-year colleges no longer provide good value? Please post your thoughts in a comment.


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