The Promise and Failure of Community Colleges

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According to Eduardo Porter's essay "The Promise and Failure of Community Colleges," community colleges have historically been overlooked by policymakers who simply associate higher education with a bachelor's degree, missing the crucial aspect that vast numbers of young Americans are not emotionally, cognitively, or financially ready to pursue their education (Porter). It is real that many unprepared students enroll in school because they believe that a degree would bring them into the middle class. Accordingly, they just join community colleges not ready to learn but rather to acquire this passport, a bachelor`s degree, to propel them to the middle class working people and earn a considerable living.

The dropout factory phrase is applied principally to the feeling of high schools in America, where there is an expectation that the students will fall via the cracks and the ones who endure and graduate to community college are regarded as the lack survivors or exceptions. However, by this definition, there is another level of the United States education counts as the ‘‘dropout factory’’ – the whole education system. Studies indicate that about 56 percent of the students who register for a bachelor`s degree program actually complete the studies within six years as per the 2011 Harvard study that is designated ‘‘Pathways to Prosperity.’’ This study further revealed that it is only 29 percent of the students who register for the associate degree who actually obtain it within the duration of three years. The research by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development also reveals that just 46 percent of the Americans finish college upon registering. It can be noticed, therefore, that few students are able to complete their college-level studies upon starting. It is also a clear indication, from these statistics, that a large group of the young Americans actually are not prepared cognitively for this kind of education (``Pathways to Prosperity: Meeting the Challenge of Preparing Young Americans for the 21 Century’’).

While there are many factors that explain the rationale for many dropouts, research indicates that the major factor is the cost of schooling. It is documented that approximately 67 percent of the young Americans do not complete their education because of financial challenges. To acquire higher education requires a huge investment so as to be able to pay the tuition fee and other associated expenses. Those who drop out of community colleges have cited, often, that they were unable to afford to finance their education because they have families to support. ‘‘Community college students may not be the poorest of the poor, but they mostly come from stressed backgrounds in the bottom half of the income distribution, and they often lack the money or social support networks to help them through school. Most are not truly prepared for college, requiring remedial courses in math or English before they receive their first higher education credit.’’ This is also an indication that they are not prepared financially to cater for their higher level education. If one really intended to acquire a bachelor`s degree, they could have put aside enough money to finance their education so as to avoid scenarios of dropping out of school or even after registering (Porter).

There is another pertinent factor at play, despite having a lesser association with the cost of acquiring bachelor`s degree. This factor has a mere association with the United States changing nature of the job markets together with the manner the education system has ever failed to go along with it. In the contemporary job market, it is indeed hard for one to receive a middle-class income without the college degree. High school graduates, as noted in the Harvard study, make up only 41 percent of the workforce of the United States which is a drop from 72 percent in the last 40 years. Similarly, it is enumerated that among the net jobs that have seen growth since the year 1970 have been the occupations which need post-secondary education, be it either an associate`s degree or bachelors` degree (Kuh, Jillian, Jennifer, Brian and John). This demand for such skills has caused most students to register for schools aiming to acquire either a bachelors` or an associate degree without adequately preparing cognitively, socially or financially on how to acquire this type of education. This is because not every student who registers and gets to class prepared to learn or necessarily do they want to have a glimpse of what they will achieve at the end of their study.

Cognitively, some college students are not prepared to be at the college since they have a preconceived mind that there is no stable job that exists even after completing their studies. This is linked to the disturbing reality concerning the impacts of the higher education in the social race and class context. The notion that their counterparts from wealthy backgrounds who even do not attend college are better placed to secure stable employment unlike those from poor backgrounds. Accordingly, they tend to think that attending community colleges is wasteful. ‘‘For example, almost 50 percent of all first-time community college students (and in some settings significantly more) are assessed as underprepared for the academic demands of college-level work. This is another major reason why about half of community college students do not return to college for their second year of studies'' (Kuh, Jillian, Jennifer, Brian and John).

In conclusion, it is clear that a large group of the young community college students in America are not indeed prepared either socially, financially or cognitively to complete their bachelors` degree or associate degree. This is attributed to them not being prepared to cater for their education or to prepare themselves for studying while at college following their preconceived mind of securing jobs. The policymakers normally assume these factors by equating higher education degree with a bachelor`s degree for one to be classified in the middle class.

Works Cited

Porter, Eduardo. "The Promise And Failure Of Community Colleges." Nytimes.com. N.p., 2017. Web. 5 Oct. 2017.

Kuh, George D, Jillian Kinzie, Jennifer A. Buckley, Brian K. Bridges, and John C. Hayek. What Matters to Student Success: A Review of the Literature. , 2006. Print.

Pathways to Prosperity: Meeting the Challenge of Preparing Young Americans for the 21 Century. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Graduate School of Education, 2011. Print.

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