Too Many Students, Too Little Space

With the White House summit on community colleges last week, America is all interested in community colleges, at least for awhile.

“We’re upgrading our undervalued community colleges, President Obama said today. “So we can link students looking for work with businesses that are looking to hire.” Community colleges, Obama insists, are essential to increasing the number of college graduates this country produces.

Good point. The trouble is that there may simply not be enough community and technical colleges to educate too many more Americans. According to an article by Jordan Blum in The Advocate:

Many of Louisiana’s officials are placing a major emphasis on the growth of the state’s community and technical colleges, which now enroll roughly 80,000 students. The 11-year-old Louisiana Community and Technical College System has essentially doubled enrollment the past five years.

Senate Education Committee Chairman Ben Nevers, D-Bogalusa, said he is unsure whether two-year schools can keep up with the “gaping holes” in student demand, such as Delgado Community College in New Orleans having to turn some students away.

The trouble is that while community colleges plan for some degree of enrollment growth, massive enrollment growth means these schools have to plan for physical expansion, and many of them simply don’t have the money for these kinds of projects.

This problem is not exclusive to Louisiana; community colleges across the country are contemplating capping admissions at community colleges in order to deal with overcrowding.

Daniel Luzer

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