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What community college competition looks like

Over the past three days, I’ve run across the following headlines:

“Macomb Community College unveils state of the art technology center “

“Alabama Community College system to offer broadband related job training”

“Community College Trains Iowa Wind Energy Workers”

“LaGuardia Community College offering students first-hand experience in urban farming”

This represents what some community colleges are doing to improve their enrollment. Macomb Community College’s “new” technology center isn’t really new. It’s an extensive rehab of an existing building. Of the $45M bill, the State of Michigan paid $15M. By law, the state’s portion of a community college construction project could be 50%. In Macomb’s case, the state paid 33%. The deductions could have been the result of non-qualified usage, or they could have been the result of “deferred maintenance.”

This is one of the significant consequences that Michigan community colleges suffer when they either don’t plan their construction projects carefully or they don’t take care of their facilities. Nonetheless, $45M is a major investment in academic programs and technology training in Macomb County. Don’t be surprised when companies start building new facilities there.

Alabama’s statewide community college system is offering free fiber optic technician training to support the state’s broadband initiatives. The demand for fiber optic technicians will increase by nearly ten percent over the next 8 years. Fiber optic workers can make between $42,000 and $52,000 per year.

Iowa Lakes Community College has initiated a program to train workers in the second-fastest growing field in the United States. The demand for wind turbine technicians will increase by 44% over the next 8 years. Median pay for this occupation is more than $56,000 per year.

A community college can either learn how to compete or lose their students

LaGuardia Community College, which is in Brooklyn, NY, has a highly effective urban farming program. If you can farm in New York City, you can farm anywhere. Agricultural technicians can make $45,000 per year. And urban farms can produce a lot of produce quickly, and in areas that currently qualify as food deserts.

I see a lot of community colleges investing in their instruction, developing high-wage, high demand programs. Free college sounds nice, but if earning a college degree doesn’t meaningfully increase a person’s income, it’s really just a waste of time, isn’t it?

A certain former WCC Trustee asked, “Where are we going to lose them to?” speaking of WCC students in a ridiculous attempt to justify a new $10 per credit hour fee to cover WCC’s construction debts.

WCC is losing its students to the job market, largely because most of them won’t earn substantially more by taking the time to earn a WCC degree.

In what seems like an era of non-stop indictments, this might be one of the biggest.

Photo Credit: Amtec Photos , via Flickr