Conservatives Should Consider Community Colleges

by George Leef

Community colleges are stereotyped as pathetic excuses for “real college” where the loser kids go. Enroll in one, and you’ll suffer the embarrassment forever, and you’ll get little or none of that legendary “college earnings premium.”

If that’s your opinion, you should think again, writes Professor Rob Jenkins in today’s Martin Center article.

Any parents (but especially those with a conservative bent) should consider the benefits of a community college, he argues. As for the politics, your son or daughter is far less likely to encounter the kind of irritating, time-wasting, zealous advocacy for leftism they’re apt to encounter at many four-year schools. And students won’t get drawn into devastating lifestyle mistakes (drugs, binge drinking, hookup culture) that have ruined many students at “real” colleges.

What about academics? The rap on community colleges is that they must be bad because their graduation rates are usually low. Jenkins responds to pointing out that whether a student graduates (and learns much) depends on him as an individual. Forget about averages — its individual action that matters in any college. Jenkins writes, “Students who enter a community college with high-school grades and standardized test scores commensurate with success at a university will almost certainly succeed at the community college level — and then again at the university level, once they transfer.”

And there is also the matter of money. Spending two years at a community college will save the family many thousands of dollars in tuition and other expenses.

Professor Jenkins concludes, “conservative state legislators should ensure that community colleges remain adequately funded and accessible, not only for the financially needy and academically underprepared students they have traditionally served, but also for middle-class students looking to get a good education without having to mortgage their futures — or sell their souls.”

To Jenkins’s case, I’ll add one more point: Community colleges have not gone in for the idiotic curricular mandates you find at most four-year colleges, such as “diversity” courses.

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