Four year community colleges?

by David Safier
Higher education is not my specialty, so I offer this for discussion without taking much of a position one way or the other. Should we turn some of Arizona's two year community colleges into four year, Bachelors Degree granting institutions? It's happening elsewhere.

On the plus side, a four year college education would be less expensive and closer to home. On the minus side, educational quality could suffer.

When I was teaching, some of my high school college prep students who graduated, then returned to visit a few years later, had attended both a local community college and University of Oregon (I taught in the Portland area). Some began at CC, then moved to UO, and some went the other direction. I asked, did you get a better education in one school rather than the other? The answer was always the same: It depended on the instructor, not the school.

I hear lots of talented people with PhD's are having trouble finding teaching jobs. If community colleges expanded, they might find a ready pool of qualified applicants who are perfectly willing to teach more courses with less research expected of them than at a place like UO.

0 responses to “Four year community colleges?

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  2. Francine Shacter

    It used to be – and I don’t know if it still is – that professors at Universities were under so much pressure to “publish or perish” that their teaching came second. Those teaching in the junior and community colleges were, often, people whose primary desire was to teach and since they were freed from the “publish or perish” bug, the students got more from those instructors. My own thought, based on a very small and unrepresentative sample, is that those who start at the junior college and then transfer to the four-year college, get the best deal! To my mind, the advantage is that they get into the “college” environment after they have had some time to adapt to the difference between college and high school. Some data on the subject would be very helpful!

  3. Students at community colleges also perform better during their freshman and sophomore years, and outperform their peers for the last two years when they transfer to a state university from a community college.

    I have been to community college, state university, and private university, and I basically agree that it is the student-instructor match-up that makes the difference, not the location of the classroom.

  4. David, some programs @ community colleges are actually better than those at 4 year institutions. For example, my mom received her RN from Pima CC. As a group, student from PCC’s RN program scored higher on the state nursing boards than those from the UofA. (the only difference between an ADRN like my mom had and a BSRN was the BS and the fact that to be a Head Nurse at most hospitals you had to had the Bachelors Degree).
    Things may have changed since then (1987) but the education that my mom received was of a better quality than that @ the UofA at the time.