The social, cultural, and physical environments in which we live play an influential role in our lives. It’s time we gave credit to a segment of higher education that makes a difference for many of our most vulnerable students—community colleges. Pictured here are students whose educational journeys have already led them to Independence (KS) and they are on the way to the kind of independence that education brings. For many students, that path leads through community college—and that’s a good thing.

The data in this article make the case for the power of community colleges.

Many college students attend CCs because more selective universities rejected them when they applied for freshman admission. Fast-forward a couple of years: many of those once rejected applicants become the lifeblood of four-year schools—students whose odds for success now outstrip those of the students who originally were accepted by the more selective schools.


What happened during those two or so years? Answer: community college.

Potential can be a tricky thing to measure, for sure. Admissions offices must predict a student’s chance for success at their institution.

Why might students initially deemed unlikely to succeed at a college become a better bet for success two years later? Here’s just two possible reasons.

  • Community colleges tend to have smaller classes and a lower student-to-teacher ratio. Imagine the difference between sitting in an intro to psych or biology course alongside several hundred classmates at the U versus having about thirty classmates at your local CC. See that tiny figure at the microphone down there? That’s your lecturer! Feel like asking her a question?
  • Your professors should be involved and up to date in their academic field, right? If they’re teaching at a community college, there’s a good chance that they see themselves as having TWO fields: their academic discipline AND the scholarship of teaching and learning. That’s one of the things that draws teachers to work in colleges where they know that they will have the opportunity to teach smaller classes alongside colleagues who also are committed to learning as much as possible about the sciences of learning and the art of teaching.

As a community college teacher, I loved learning with my colleagues as a member of faculty teams. I enjoyed watching students learn to actually talk with their professors and classmates about academic points. I treasured seeing first-generation students (like I’d been) catch the fire of learning. I write about that in OPEN ADMISSIONS and blog about it each week in “Turning Points.”


Do you see other advantages of community college that might explain why CC grads are such good bets when they apply for transfer? If so, please reply here.

Photos: from website for Independence Community College, recently ranked top CC in Kansas and one of top 50 CCs in US.

INDEPENDENCE is what community colleges help create, so let’s celebrate ICC and all community colleges!