Today I would like to highlight a couple of articles in the Community College Times.
State Efforts to Make College More Affordable
A Senate hearing on efforts by states to make college more affordable highlighted several initiatives that Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), chair of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, said he hopes can be replicated more broadly.
These initiatives are likely to receive more attention next year, when Congress begins to work on reauthorizing the federal Higher Education Act.
At Thursday’s hearing, Harkin expressed urgency in addressing the soaring cost of higher education. When it comes to increasing affordability, “states still have a primary role to play,” he said.
Harkin cited several areas where states can take the lead, such as setting performance goals, redesigning financial aid to target those most in need, establishing statewide articulation policies and promoting accelerated learning opportunities to get students through school faster. (Read more.)
Discussing College Options May Help Close the Skills Gap
When faced with a challenge as daunting as our nation’s skills gap, it’s tempting to believe the solution lies in broad, sweeping initiatives requiring significant investments of time and resources—and it’s true that there are few easy answers. However, one key to closing the gap may require little more than a simple shift in our thinking.
I’ve come to believe that one of the issues holding our nation back when it comes to workforce development is our somewhat incomplete understanding of the options students have after high school. We perceive it as a two-track system, with the choices being either immediate entry into the workforce or enrollment at a four-year residential college. This omits, of course, several worthy options—including the community college.
There’s a good reason why our vision is limited in this way: at one time, the two-track system was a reality. Everyone was assured the promise of a remunerative, fulfilling career, with those entering the workforce immediately after high school able to do very well, even if their earning potential wasn’t quite equal to that of most college graduates.
Our workforce needs were also satisfied, since a high school diploma was an adequate prerequisite for many jobs. A two-track system was enough, in short, to get our economy where it needed to go. (Read more.)