The Atlantic, May 22, 2020: America Sabotaged the Solution to Its New Higher-Education Crisis
Right now, across the country, millions of high-school graduates and their families are facing an undeniable fact: The pandemic has thrown their plans for the future into complete disarray. Some of these families were hoping to send their kids to out-of-state institutions that are now barely operational. Others were hoping their kids would find jobs right out of high school, and those jobs are almost certainly gone now.
Many of these families—plus millions of students already midway through a college degree—are going to turn to an institution often overlooked in the national discourse about higher education: community college. And why shouldn’t they?
Compared with many alternatives, community colleges are relatively affordable. They are located in nearly every county in the country, allowing students to live at home and help their families survive this tough economic time. Many offer flexible scheduling with both traditional academic programs and vocational training. That’s why when the Great Recession hit, community colleges absorbed half of all growth in college enrollment. Despite the stereotypes of low graduation rates, many students succeed in completing credentials in community college, and transferring to four-year institutions.