Free Custom «Community Colleges: Should They Offer Four-Year Degrees?» Essay Sample
The issue of education raises attention of many critics and researchers. It especially concerns community colleges that experiment with baccalaureate degree programs. More and more colleges offer bachelor's degrees to their students. An analysis shows that community colleges should not offer four-year degrees because of the lack of education quality and aging of educational facilities.
Proponents of the four-year college degrees argue that such colleges serve as an option for many students to receive their bachelor’s degrees. The problem is that universities offering a degree may be located far away from their homes. Not all individuals can afford living in another region. Therefore, four-year colleges may solve this problem by providing the same education as universities (Wright 336).
However, as community colleges progressively change into the four-year institutions, questions concerning their educational quality are appearing. Researchers state that two-year colleges are poorly qualified to offer bachelor’s degrees. Moreover, such a change can cause duplication of services and blur the line between the different types of education offered by two-year and four-year establishments (Wright 336). In addition, the buildings of many community colleges are so old that many students doubt their safety and tend to reenter newer community colleges (Wright 346). The other researchers argue that the strong emphasis of colleges on the workforce training leads to the fact that student graduate “with an empty education” (Wright 331).
Wright states that the United States alters its focus from heavy industry and manufacturing to the economy involving large amounts of data and human capital (331). Therefore, more and more American residents enroll to the college for the first time, even in adulthood. Critics underline that a wide range of “four-year institutions, entrenched in academic traditions that date back centuries, don’t quite know how to serve this new breed of students” (Wright 331). It pertains even more to the colleges that have always lacked appropriate level of development.
Despite the fact that in 2000 two-year colleges comprised only one-third of all American colleges and universities, they enrolled approximately 50% of all undergraduate college students. The low cost of college education may be the main reason of the high level of enrollment. Community colleges may also have a high enrollment rate because of the same cause. Reasonable prices of these facilities offer great prevalence over the four-year institutions (Wright 332). However, only up to 15% of high-income individuals choose them (Marcus). More than a half of all these students are 25 year-old or even older individuals who already have jobs (Wright 333). Moreover, they experience low graduation rates as only four in ten students finish a degree within the period of six years (Marcus). It shows that for such individuals, college serves as a means of getting specialized training rather than a degree.
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In his article Wright insists that “the institutions have resided in a sort of academic netherworld, neither high school nor strictly higher-education institution” (333). Community college experts tend to explain this situation by several factors that contribute to the poor image of the institutions. They include the policy of accepting all individuals, cooperation with academic underachievers, as well as the low cost of education. These factors cause another problem. More than 50% of all persons who enroll to the two-year institutions for the first time are not prepared for the college-level work in writing, reading, or even mathematics (Wright 334).
Proponents of the four-year degrees in colleges also note that persons who graduate from community colleges and enter four-year academic facilities are more likely to get bachelor’s degree than those who do not (Wright 334). Several American colleges have started to adopt tougher standards with the aim of increasing the level of their reputation and improving their image on the national level. Moreover, some of them have adopted the policy of offering bachelor’s degrees in order to improve their reputation. Adherents of the baccalaureates proposed by the community colleges underline that these degrees would be substantially different from the degrees provided by the four-year academic institutions. They will be limited to a number of technical fields. They would include manufacturing and information management focusing on “work-force training with competency-based skills”, whereas universities will provide theory necessary for work situations (Wright 337).
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However, such a technique may be used by colleges with the aim of recruiting higher level of students who want to receive their four-year education. Colleges should focus on improving the quality if their education rather than move to a higher level by offering new degrees. For example, in 1929 it was more difficult to get into Taft Junior College located in California than into Yale (Wright 338). Therefore, colleges should return their image and reputation in order not to raise the experts’ concern about quality of education or aging of building where those facilities operate. Recently, enrollment has shortened by nearly 30% because of the low performance colleges. It means that community colleges should incorporate innovative, entrepreneurial, and creative skills in order to improve the situation (Marcus).
Community colleges should not involve into the four-year degree business because they have created a strong reputation by functioning apart from this education arena. They serve as an option for students who do not have an opportunity to enter higher establishments or complete a basic education (Marcus). In addition, the bachelor’s degree received from the community college will “always be viewed as a second-class degree” (Wright 345).
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In conclusion, community colleges should not offer four-year degrees because of the lack of appropriate quality of education and aging of educational facilities. An analysis of study conducted by Scott Wright shows that these education establishments should solve their main problems rather than offer four-year degrees, which would be viewed by the society as secon-hand degrees (331). Thus, community colleges should focus their attention on improving their authorized programs, enhancing the quality of their education, as well as helping students receive appropriate levels of knowledge.
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