Community Colleges

Should they offer four-year degrees?


As the 100th anniversary of the community college movement approaches, the nation's 1,250 two-year colleges and technical schools face an uncertain future. Enrollments have never been higher, and the schools receive high praise for providing higher-education opportunities and work-force training to all students -- regardless of economic or educational background. But as two-year colleges increasingly offer four-year degrees, questions about their educational quality have intensified. Critics warn that by offering baccalaureate degrees, community colleges may be putting higher education out of reach for many Americans while providing, at best, second-rate four-year degrees. To add to the pressure, many urban, two-year colleges are housed in aging facilities needing major renovation.

High school dropout Michael Miller, 26, became an A student at Baltimore City Community College with the ...

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