Envisioning Opportunity: Three Options for a Community College in Washington, D.C.

Source: Brooke DeRenzis, Martha Ross, and Alice Rivlin, Brookings Institution, May 2008

From the summary:
In most cities around the country, community colleges play a critical role in providing training for “middle skill” jobs, those that require less than a four-year degree but more than a high school diploma; helping students transfer to four-year baccalaureate programs; and serving adults who want to upgrade their skills. Community colleges are accessible to residents through open admissions and affordable tuition rates. They serve a diverse student body from all social and economic backgrounds with flexible schedules and offerings. Community colleges offer a wide array of academic and occupationally-focused certificate and associate programs tied to the regional labor market. Associate degree programs have clear articulation agreements with four-year degree programs to facilitate transfers. Community colleges also provide strong developmental courses for students without the reading, writing, or math skills required for college-level coursework, as well as support and guidance services to help students succeed. They often forge strong links with public high schools and adult literacy programs. Additionally, community colleges serve regional employers by working closely with them to develop curricula and programs to prepare a pool of skilled and qualified workers.

This brief lays out three options for creating a community college in the District: (1) Create a community college within UDC; (2) create a freestanding community college from an incubator institution; or (3) create a community college network that strengthens and ties together sub-baccalaureate offerings at UDC and other institutions in the city and suburbs. None of these options are easy or cheap, and all would require substantial commitment from city leaders and major new investments in higher education. If the city is not willing to make a large and long-term investment, it cannot expect much in return. While each option has benefits and limitations, we believe that the most viable, effective, and sustainable option is the creation of a freestanding community college that starts within an incubator institution.
See also:
Why Washington Needs a Community College
Source: Alice M. Rivlin, Walter Smith, Brookings Institution, July 6, 2008

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