Should Community Colleges Enroll More Rich Kids?

How can we get community colleges to graduate more of their students? The outcomes of community colleges, which overwhelmingly serve the economically disadvantaged, are notoriously bad (like in the 20 percent range). Perhaps a way to fix this is to get more wealthy and middle class students studying there.

So argues Richard Kahlenberg of the The Century Foundation. According to a piece by Jamal Abdul-Alim in Diverse Issues in Higher Education

The idea is to end the racial and economic isolation and stratification that exists at many community colleges and thereby bring about improved outcomes in terms of graduation and other measures.

“Honors programs are an important ‘magnet’ feature of community colleges, a way of reducing both racial and economic stratification,” the report states. “If one objective of having an honors program is to draw talented students from a range of economic and racial backgrounds, the challenge is to offer programs that simultaneously will be highly attractive to students who might not otherwise consider community college and yet at the same time avoid becoming tracking devices that segregate students within community colleges.”

Hurrah, the return of the finishing school!

Many community colleges, however, are already at capacity and can’t offer classes to all the students who already want to study. If community colleges make an effort to enroll more affluent students, where do the poor students go?

Oh right, they go to for-profit colleges.

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