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Community Colleges: Ready for Prime Time?

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One more sign that the heat is on for community colleges: this story in yesterday's Washington Post, noting that the ailing economy is driving up enrollments in local two-years.

In a recent blog post, I mentioned the raised expectations being ladled onto the nation's community colleges as President Obama calls for higher levels of American educational attainment, and I asked whether two-year colleges are up to the challenge. Combine raised expectations with an economy that funnels more students into two-years, and the stakes are even higher.

On a somewhat related note, check out this story in The Boston Globe, which argues for a more inclusive conception of education after high school. It notes that large swaths of young people don't go directly to college, but engage in a more circuitous route to degrees or certificates. The sooner we realize and embrace the diversity in pathways to attainment, author Neil Swidey argues, the more likely we'll be to develop smart policies supporting President Obama's goal of a better-educated populace.

"We'll have a much better shot at getting to the mountaintop if we stop thinking there's just one route leading us there," Swidey writes.

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Community Colleges are up to the task of meeting the challenges to improve graduation rates. They are more inclined to provide support for academically disadvantaged students than four-year colleges.

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