Community Colleges in the 21st Century: Challenges and Opportunities
Community colleges account for a surprisingly large share of American higher education. Nearly one half of all postsecondary undergraduates in fall 1997 were enrolled in community colleges (U.S. Department of Education, 2000a), and over the span of any given year, more for-credit undergraduate students enroll in community colleges than in baccalaureate-granting institutions. Community colleges have large and growing enrollments in non-credit courses as well. Moreover, the types of students who enroll in community colleges— first-generation or those from low socioeconomic backgrounds (U.S. Department of Education, 2000a)— are precisely the ones who are of most concern to scholars and policymakers. But after several decades of growth, community
colleges now face a particularly challenging environment. Changes in pedagogic and production technology, state funding policy, the expectations of students, parents, and policymakers, demographic trends; and the growth of new types of educational institutions and providers are potentially altering the role of community colleges within the wider landscape of higher education.
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