History of community colleges
Community colleges, formerly referred to as junior colleges, were founded in the year 1920. In as much as the name changed to community college, the term junior college is still used until now in some institutions. Institutions that are associated with athletics mostly use the old term rather than call them community colleges. The community colleges were founded in America and that explains why they were called the American Association of Junior Colleges (Wood, 2016). These colleges are called a lot of other names including county colleges, branch campus and in other places, they are called city colleges. These institutions were introduced in the curriculum to provide young people with an opportunity to further their education. This system would help them to become better people and help the rest of the members of the society.
The education provided in the colleges would have equipped the learners with knowledge and skills that would help them perform tasks which would earn them better income. The other reason why the colleges were introduced is that the founders wanted to help the locals to better their standards of living. This way the economy of the country would eventually become better because most of the locals are productive. In different states, like Chicago and California, community colleges are usually financed by the respective municipalities. This is to ensure that the residents of the city can access services from the institutions.
The colleges offer courses that take around two years to equip the learners with the knowledge they need. In New York City, for instance, community colleges were integrated into the state government (Bhubacher, 2017). The students were able to get basic vocational training in different fields. The state government of New York changed its technical institutes to become community colleges. The operation costs were higher after the technical institutes were changed to community colleges and this caused a conflict of interests between the county and state governments. After the consultation, the county government agreed that the institution should be changed to community college.
The reason why the local government-financed the two-year courses in the institutions was to ensure that the young people who were in the rural areas to be able to cope with urban life. When these young people move to the city they are able to hang in with the others and compete effectively for their positions. The two-year community colleges were started in the United States and have become more prominent unlike in other areas (Gandara et al., 2017). The colleges were started by private sectors and the locals could not afford higher learning. This called for intervention by the state and county governments to provide higher education for students. The suggestion of making community colleges public institutions was made by the former president of Baylor University; J. Carroll. In other cities, the first community colleges were meant to extend the knowledge of high schools graduates.
Some of these state owned institutions included Joliet Junior College that was functional from 1901 in Illinois. The number of students was small at the beginning and some of the institutions had an average population of fewer than 200 students (Bhubacher., 2017). The community colleges that offered two-year courses helped to keep the institutions that existed from the past. The pioneer behind community college, Carroll allowed students who lived within Baylor University to take two-year courses in the institution. The academic plans were put in place and those in the junior and senior years were accommodated. This move was introduced to facilitate the resources of the first two years in the institutions of higher learning.
Challenges that faced community colleges
Among the factors that affected the performance of the community colleges since their inception including insufficient funds to facilitate for their operation. The state and county governments were not able to collect enough funds from taxes and finance community colleges and other projects concurrently. This made the facilities to lack some of the fundamental resources necessary for learning (Gelbar, 2015). Those that were in rural areas were smaller in size compared to those that were in urban areas and when the costs were distributed, the rates of expenditure for the institutions were high. This forced most of the institutions to seek more equitable financing despite the size of the institution and the number of students enrolled.
The community colleges also suffered from low enrolment rates because some of the students were affected by the population distribution. The location of the institutions sometimes made it impossible for targeted students to access them (Bahr et al., 2016). For this reason, there was a higher competition for enrollment in the universities that were located in the cities as compared to the local community colleges. The universities focused more on growing their development programs that make it hard for those community colleges to implement their strategic plans to deal with enrollment issues.
The changing of trends also affected the community colleges because the demands of the market were also varying. This forced the community colleges to be flexible for them to fit with what the market required of them. This called for changes in the curricula and therefore some of the two-year courses were unavailable in the community colleges. The business cycle also affected the enrollment of students because it was assumed that the poor economy was good for enrolment in the community colleges. The low turnout of students was linked to a bad economy and this discouraged most of the students from joining the colleges over the years.
The community colleges have also suffered from inequalities especially in the past. This has been a major issue considering that the wages that the employees received because of inequality. The community colleges were also introduced for the locals in Americans and, therefore, other people were treated like outcasts. When it came to enrollment, the students were allowed to joining the colleges depending on the color of the skin. Others were discriminated because of their ages and their beliefs. This locked out most of the students who had the potential to maximize on the opportunity presented to them. Those who had to migrate from one place to another were made uncomfortable by the natives, especially in the early years. Immigrants were mostly affected in this case as they did not have a sense of belonging in the institutions (Bahr et al., 2016). The community colleges were introduced in the curricula to make the community better but this did not happen for every member of the society because diversity was not appreciated.
The difference in ideologies was also a bigger challenge in the community colleges as the students and the management were divided and affected by the polarization that was rampant in the society. The stakeholders in the community colleges failed to work in unison to achieve the goals, mission, and visions that they had (Gelbar, 2015). The colleges were supposed to help young people achieve economic independence, prosperity, and equity but failed to appreciate diversity and accommodate every member of the society. The students of two-year courses did not receive the funding from the local and state government equally. The financing and sponsorships were based on certain factors like age, economic and social statuses and ethnicity.
Due to the advances in technology also referred to artificial intelligence has also affected the community colleges. This can be argued from the point that there are a lot of inventions that seem to replace the roles that the graduates of community college would have undertaken. The new technological inventions are not provided for in the community colleges. This makes the student disadvantaged as compared to those who go to university. Automation of operations in the industries seriously affects the graduates of colleges as they receive vocational training (Wood, 2016). Statistics show that in the near future most of the operations in the companies will be done by robots and automated machines and this will make the locals who went to community colleges jobless. The state and county governments will not be able to facilitate for high tech in the local community colleges as they are changing from time to time and too expensive to install.
Most of the companies will adopt new technology because they are more effective compared to human beings. In terms of performance, machines and robots do not suffer from fatigue and can work continuously for long hours. The quality of products made by machines is also better compared to some of those created by humans. This is another modern-day challenge that affects the enrolment of students in colleges and the provision of services. The community colleges have to implement better systems that will improve the quality of skills of the learners and provide more than vocational training to them (Cowburn, 2019). The modern technology that is being adapted in many of the companies focuses on profits and improving the economy of the nation and this will force most of them to lay off workers from community colleges.
Services have also been customized because of the introduction of the internet. The customers who want to acquire products from shopping centers do not have to be present to be served. Take, for instance, a buyer wants to buy clothing from the shopping malls, they will be needed to check the measurements and place an order (Strayhorn, 2018). The goods will then be dispatched to the location of the buyer. This has affected those who went for vocational training and started working in such organizations. Most of them have been sacked or pushed to other departments that are not within their professions.
The students also have enough of the institutions and transfer to universities that offer four-year courses. Very few of the students who were enrolled in the community colleges completed their two-year courses. Statistics done for over six years have shown that half of the students who are enrolled in the college’s transfer to universities or failed to complete their courses. The report also suggests that colleges need to improve the quality of education and accessibility to attract more students.
Community colleges in this century also suffer from funding challenges; this can be demonstrated from the loans they owe financial institutions. The state governments all over America have not been able to finance the local community colleges and ensure that they offer quality education to the students (Cowburn, 2019). This forces the colleges to get loans to meet the demands of the budget. Due to varying priorities between the states, the community colleges have not been financed.
The colleges have also failed to redefine their mission and visions to meet the educational needs that the 21st century demands. The community colleges are required to equip the learners with more knowledge that is based on the current demands of the market (Strayhorn, 2018). This will motivate more students to enroll and learn the courses offered in the institutions. This might call for a different approach to which they offer services to the students. Upgrading the quality of education will increase the number of students that enroll and graduate from the facilities.
In conclusion, community colleges were introduced to promote the standards of the people who could not access services from urban areas. The colleges were introduced in the United States in the 19th century to empower young people to become more productive and compete with those in the cities. The colleges had vocational training programs that offered more opportunity for the students. However, the institutions have been affected by different challenges over the years. The colleges were not accommodative at the beginning as most of the students and management did not appreciate diversity and know that everybody is different but the needed equal opportunities. Most recently, the institutions have been affected by poor funding programs from the states and most of them are forced to get loans to meet their budgets. The curriculum has not been able to keep up with the rapid technological changes and market demands making more students transfer to universities. This topic will help to overcome the challenges that community colleges face and offer more solutions to the problems.
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Brubacher, J. (2017). Higher education in transition: History of American colleges and universities. Routledge.
Cowburn, W. (2019). Class, ideology and community education. Routledge.
Gándara, P., & Mordechay, K. (2017, April). Demographic change and the new (and not so new) challenges for Latino education. In The Educational Forum (Vol. 81, No. 2, pp. 148-159). Routledge.
Gelbar, N. W., Shefcyk, A., & Reichow, B. (2015). A comprehensive survey of current and former college students with autism spectrum disorders. The Yale journal of biology and medicine, 88(1), 45.
Strayhorn, T. L. (2018). College students’ sense of belonging: A key to educational success for all students. Routledge.
Wood, J. L., Harris, F., & Delgado, N. R. (2016). Struggling to survive, striving to succeed: Food and housing insecurities in the community college. San Diego, CA: Community College Equity Assessment Lab (CCEAL).