What if community colleges could be places where students could really start an academic career? Traditionally community colleges mostly only offer students the opportunity to take classes. But, according to an article in Community College Times:

Recognizing that community colleges are providing a path to a bachelor’s degree for a growing number of students, several research universities participating in a national initiative to strengthen undergraduate and precollege science education will begin offering research opportunities to community college students.

Fifty research universities will use the grants awarded through Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) to develop creative, research-based courses and curricula, give more students vital experience working in the lab and improve science teaching from elementary school through college.

Students in community colleges will get scholarships allowing them to begin working on scientific research projects both at their own schools and with local research universities. The HHMI grants will also help the students transfer to four-year schools to continue their research.

While one wonders what the benefit of this sort of thing is to the research universities—finding the opportunity to do substantive research as an undergraduate is very difficult, even for students who are actually attending major research universities—this seems like a reasonably promising idea for improving the quality of community college education. [Image via]

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Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer