Do community colleges still carry the bad press it use to?
Or does an Associate Degree have more value today than it use to? As more and more students enroll in community colleges, are community colleges gaining more respect?
I have been teaching community college for about eleven years, and I still don't know how to answer your question. I imagine that they have roughly the same reputation - however deserved or not - that they have had for decades. When I was in high school, we made fun of community colleges, and many still probably do. But now, I realize that when it comes to fulfilling general education requirements, there is not a huge difference in the educational quality of what you get at community colleges vs. four-year universities. On average, it is probably a bit easier, but a whole lot cheaper.
If anything, an Associate Degree is probably worth less than it once did. There are more college graduates today than in the past, and more jobs require at least a Bachelor's Degree. There is still a place, however, for vocational education in our country. Many of these jobs, after all, will remain in demand, and not everyone is cut out for getting a four-year degree.
In my area (which happens to also have an incredibly high saturation of top tier private colleges), community colleges are becoming more and more respected. There are still many people as Freeway Flyer says who "make fun" of community colleges, but that is more amongst students themselves than it is amongst the business community and individuals who are likely to be doing the hiring.
Community colleges are a great, affordable option for higher education and most of them now offer great transfer opportunities, just because someone goes to a community college, doesn't mean they're going to finish their education with an Associates degree. There are many jobs available with an associates, but I think the above point about the value of associates changing is valid as well, because so many more people are attending college today. In my opinion your education is what you make it, most community colleges have great relationships with their local communities, meaning great opportunities for internships, co-ops etc. for students!
The community college whose campus I work on (don't work for the college) recently had a student transfer to Amherst College! And I say if you can transfer from a community college to the Ivy League then things aren't looking to shabby.
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