Why all Community Colleges Should Offer Bachelor’s Degrees
Community colleges have long been recognized as an affordable alternative to four-year colleges and universities. They offered associate’s degrees for two years of study in a program, or they served as a bridge to a four-year program leading to a bachelors’ degree.
Now, however, community colleges in 21 states offer bachelor’s degrees, and that’s a move in the right direction.
All community colleges should offer bachelor’s degrees.
Better access and flexibility
The Community College Baccalaureate Association (CCBA) has long held that community colleges can provide better access and be more responsive to student demands for continued education.
Local community colleges have proven they can create programs of study designed to meet learner needs. If for example, the community need is to train nurses, the school will develop the courses needed for certification.
Community colleges also tend to offer a more flexible and more appealing schedule than many four-year universities. Most community colleges regularly provide night and weekend courses.
One of the most compelling reasons for students to attend a community college is its affordability. Not all students are willing to go into debt for their bachelor’s degrees, and many find a $10,000 degree highly attractive.
Students who finance their bachelor’s degrees from community colleges will have their education paid off long before their peers who attended pricier universities pay off their debts.
Proximity to home
Attending community college is easy because it’s nearby. Many campuses are in convenient locations that students can access after work. Some colleges offer classes at local high schools on the weekends, making attending class even easier.
Less time in getting a degree
Community colleges that offer baccalaureate degrees can help to offset shortages in high need areas such as nursing, Pre-K education, and applied technology. That means students will become part of the professional workforce more quickly. Students attending community colleges are as concerned about extracurricular activities such as sporting events and Greek life. They are willing to give up the extras to get on with their degrees and go to work.
Lower costs, greater program flexibility, proximity to home, and earning a degree in less time make community college baccalaureate degrees a welcome alternative to traditional four-year university degrees.
Community colleges that offer bachelor’s degrees are responding to the needs of the workforce. They are changing interpretations of what it means to earn a baccalaureate.
Higher education has the responsibility to transform the way in which it meets those needs, and it should embrace the new role of community colleges.