Are Community Colleges The Way Of The Future?

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Jill Biden, wife of US vice-president Joe Biden, making her unofficially the “second lady” made some telling remarks about higher education while in Europe earlier this month. Specifically, Mrs. Biden proclaimed, “Community colleges are the way of the future. Now with people losing their jobs, they’re a great place to go for new training.” Biden made this comment while speaking at a Unesco meeting in Paris.

business manUnesco stands for the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, a specialized agency of the UN established to bring about global peace and security through its program. Based in Paris, the Unesco conference allowed Mrs. Biden to speak about education, a topic dear to her heart as she is an educator who recently received her doctorate degree. Her doctorate dissertation explains her passion for two year schools fully – Student Retention at the Community College: Meeting Students’ Needs. Mrs. Biden currently teaches English as a Second Language at North Virginia Community College in addition to her wife of the veep role.

Millions Of Students Enrolled

America’s community colleges have been playing an increasingly significant role in helping laid of workers and career changers get retrained. These schools number around 1200 and serve nearly twelve million students. Community colleges feature open enrollment which means that college entrance examinations are not required.

Describing community colleges as “America’s best kept secret,” Mrs. Biden stated that the community college model could be exported to other countries especially developing nations where students can get trained in technology, information services, health sciences and other fields. Biden’s remark comes as several countries including Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Qatar invest billions of dollars in developing elite universities. Biden noted that community colleges can be started with less money and have a significant impact to the local population.

Education And Economic Recovery

Mrs. Biden’s remarks to Unesco reiterate what the Obama administration has been pushing since it took office six months ago – that higher education would help revitalize the economy. To that end, Obama has increased aid to laid off workers and students while increasing tuition tax credits and by taking the confusion out of the financial aid process.

Will the American community college idea be exported? And, if so, can it be monetized in the process?

Photo Credit: Nathan Green

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