The Power of Community College

By MJ Ali

Community colleges are the most flexible and resourceful learning institutions in this country, and right now many of them are doing more online than ever before. And guess who benefits from this now-more-accessible treasure trove of goodies to feed your curiosity, imagination, thirst for knowledge and outlet for creative expression? Everyone does.

Community colleges are generally thought of as strictly two-year degree colleges, job or career prep institutions, preparation for four-year colleges and universities, and certification for specific career paths. But community colleges have evolved to include community enrichment, continuing education, and often a rich regional tradition unique to each community served. Students, faculty and staff are deeply invested in their communities.

It’s common practice for university students to fulfill required courses through community colleges because they’re less expensive, but they may also find the quality of teaching and smaller class size also provide a better learning experience. The instructors are quite often top notch professors and teachers who have worked at four-year institutions and chosen to teach at community colleges because their student base is more culturally, socio-economically and experientially diverse with a wider age range (18 to —) and richer palette of work and life experience to contribute.

A SENSE OF PLACE

Have you ever taken an online course and felt that you were one in a vast, faceless sea of students? It can feel empty, impersonal and even aimless. When you take an online course at a community college, there’s a sense of cohesion, a feeling of groundedness, and an investment in its students and community. There’s pride in place, and it shows in rich curricula and talented and dedicated instructors.

Community Colleges, as the name implies, serve their communities. Everyone’s welcome, and online learners become part of that community, too. Even if you’re a Michigander taking courses from Central New Mexico Community College. Community colleges, unlike their for-profit competitors, are built by the community, for the community, staffed by community members. And that really does make a difference.

ENRICHMENT FOR EVERYONE

All you have to do is go to your local community college website and search for what you want to learn about. It will let you know everything about that course, whether it’s set for virtual class, who your instructor will be, how many students are enrolled. Let’s take a quick look at Pima Community College in Tucson, Arizona. If you click on their schedule of classes you’ll see the many formats they’re offering for teaching (hybrid, in person, online, etc.) and a deep search into all the classes that are available for Fall 2020. Like many community colleges, PCC’s Community page includes a section for Lifelong Learners: Arizona residents 55 and older can receive a 50% discount on credit courses.

From pottery to physics, welding to writing, community colleges provide learning for every curious and thirsty mind.

What do you want to learn today?

 

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