by Michael Ciavarelli
In Report: Community College Attendance Up, But Graduation Rates Remain Low, Jason Koebler argues that while community colleges have had increased attendance they continue to have lackluster graduation rates. Community colleges are an affordable way for students who may not be financially able to pay for a traditional four year college or university to get a higher education. Their focus is to get students to graduate and transfer into schools that have four year programs and ultimately get these students into the work force.
The number of students attending community college has increased dramatically in the past decade. In the year 2000, there were approximately 5.5 million students attending community colleges but in 2011 there were over 8 million. Even though there is a focus in quality and graduation and attendance has increased dramatically, not even half of the students that go to a community college graduate or transfer out to a 4 year school within 6 years. The increase in attendance may be due to the suffering economy because community colleges cost an average of less than $3000 per year compared to the over $8000 it costs at a four year college. The increase in attendance has lead to a rise in the percentage of the American workforce that has an associate degree, rising from 12% in 1973 to 27% in 2007.
Although there is an increase in attendance and community colleges are an affordable way to get an education there has to be major improvements made to make sure these incoming students graduate and move on to other programs to make the knowledge that they gain from these community colleges to pay off.