We often think we “know” all about community colleges and two-year postsecondary institutions. But how much of what we know is truly supported by the facts?
Recently, the American Association of Community Colleges released a series of “fast facts” about community colleges today. And some of the data points may surprise you, including:
- Community college students are getting younger, with more than half of all community college students now under the age of 21
- Community colleges are currently serving a smaller portion of undergraduate students than in previous years
- Two-thirds of all community college students rely on Pell grants to afford their postsecondary educations
- Annual tuition and fees at community colleges only increased, on average, $90 in the past year
- More than a third of all students enrolled at community colleges are the first in their families to seek a postsecondary education Read more
Many in the education community speak of the importance of a postsecondary education for all of today’s learners, and rightfully so. As young people make the transition from school to career, there are many important lessons, skills, and experiences that postsecondary education provides.
It is important, though, to recognize that postsecondary education is not synonymous with a liberal arts college degree. As learners explore their interests and aptitudes and begin understanding the career pathways before them, a bachelor’s degree in a liberal arts discipline isn’t necessarily the key to future success.
The Hechinger Report recently explored this topic, as reporter Laura Pappano asked the question, “Is the college degree outdated?” In her piece, Pappano explored how many of today’s young people are recognizing that microcredentials, career certificates, and other forms of measureable educational attainment can make all the difference when moving from the student body to the workforce.