Community Colleges & The Liberal Arts
Posted on August 4, 2011
The Chronicle of Higher Education published an interesting article this week about liberal arts education. The author pointed out that when it comes down to it, the majority of college graduates receive their liberal arts education at a community college. This education shapes many of the “soft skills” that are highly sought after by employers.
I had no idea what happened at a community college until I started working at one last year. Not only do our professors (not TA’s) teach rigorous academic material, but I’ve heard students come back after they transfer to a four-year campus and comment that the courses they take their junior year are much easier than the courses they took on our campus.
I’m assuming what happens on my campus is not an anomaly, so why are community colleges not recognized for their contribution to liberal arts education in America? As the author writes, the national media and even our government generally refers to community colleges as drivers of workforce development. I think that technical preparation programs and community colleges get lumped together in this narrative. If more students had a clear understanding of the role of a community college, would they choose to spend their first two years there (saving money, enjoying smaller class sizes, maintaining connections in their community) rather than starting at a four-year campus?
What is your perception of community colleges? If you attended one, what do you remember when you reflect on your experience?