Just a thought (of several) on President Obama’s National Community College Proposal

President Obama; first of all should be congratulated and commended for his very bold proposal to make community college attendance free to all who wish to work hard for it. No nation could be hurt by expanding educational opportunities. This proposal also give a tremendous economic and emotional lift to those in our country who wanted to improve their job skills; but were unable to cover basic living expenses, and pay for college tuition. The private sector will surely gain from the increase level of skills and competencies from their new educationally enhanced employees. And predictably the opposition on the Right to his proposal is divided between those who automatically oppose any idea, no matter how worthy, if it comes from Mr. Obama; while the other half is made up of those who only want to assist and subsidize the rich, and reject any proposal that would improve the life chances of everyday Americans. This is going to take a great deal of thoughtful effort to make it work; but it can work; and work well for the country. One (of several) of my concerns is that this very positive act may have a very adverse financial effect on many of our HBCU’s. This action may possibly lower the number of students in freshman and sophomore classes at 4 year institutions. The larger more “endowed” universities could perhaps adjust to this lowered number, and absorb the financial lost (and wait for those students to arrive for their junior and senior years of study). This may be a challenge; not just for HBCU’s, but for any small to medium 4 year institution. There is presently a terrible “resource gap” in our university system; will this widen that gap?

From Tiffany Harrison Bryant: Excellent point on the effect to HBCUs. I also wonder if many will continue on to attain the bachelors degree or higher. Some may become complacent and stop at the associates level especially because of the resource divide. Other institutions may raise cost to compensate for lower attendance. The reverse could occur and higher intuitions could adapt and create similar programming for associate degree candidates. Either way creating access to higher education for the masses in a fashion that doesn’t burden the student with debt is favorable.

From Dr. Anthony Junior: I understand the concern for HBCUs, however, the larger concern should be for families of color. The unfortunate reality is that many students can’t afford tuition at HBCUs, or any other institutions, in the first instance. The net effect is that these prospective students are denied access to higher education. The argument for the impact on HBCUs may be “putting the cart before the proverbial horse”.

From Dr. Kofi Lomotey: The President’s plan to universally fund community colleges is a good one for the country in the long run. It would create a stronger workforce for an increasingly global environment. HBCUs and other colleges and universities would have to adapt–by refocusing their resources to years 3 and 4 of the undergraduate experience AND graduate and professional degree programs.

From Chryssey A. Schloss-Allen: I do agree but the President is also working with the change in the times- many students are opting for community colleges rather than coming directly to a 4 year college. this trend has been noticed in CUNY over the years and there have been more incoming Transfer Students than ever before. It is particularly helpful for students who still are uncertain of what they want to do and for students grossly under-prepared/under-funded for college life. It also opens up any scholarship opportunities that they may not have been privy to because of lower HS grades.