Apparently the latest plan community colleges have created to lure students to study is dormitories. According to an article by Marsha Gilbert in Diverse Issues in Higher Education:

[America is seeing a ] growing trend of young people who choose to go to community colleges with residential facilities as a bridge between living at home and getting an apartment or going to a four-year college. For some, community college is their first choice, and the two-year program fits their career goals. Others enjoy the low-cost housing and transferrable credits while preparing for their next move.

Community colleges are responding to the requests for housing. In 2000, 225 community colleges offered housing, by 2010 that number grew to 260, according to the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC). Now in 2012, 391 two-year institutions are providing a place to live, reports the National Center for Education Statistics.

“Low cost” is sort of relative. For students attending community college right out of high school, a really low cost housing option would be just to continue living at home. Many community colleges in rural areas, however, serve large geographic areas. Residential buildings offer students the ability to attend classes without lengthy commutes.

It’s too early to determine the effectiveness of this strategy (and there are far too few community colleges offering housing to see this as a major trend), but it does look promising. Critics suggest that one of the primary reasons community colleges have such low completion rates is that students try to fit classes into complicated schedules. There are often two hours between classes; students can’t really go home during this time. Dorms at least offer the ability to set a full class schedule that might help students complete classes on time.

At least for those who can afford it and don’t have to hold down full-time jobs in addition to classes.

Note that this particular strategy is probably not designed to attract students to community colleges in general (demand for community colleges is way up now) but, rather, to help them choose individual community colleges. Dorms! Just like regular college.

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