Community Colleges See Increased Interest As Students Consider Fall Options

With continued online learning being a possibility, families could be considering more cost-effective options

NBC Connecticut

It’s been a college semester where group study sessions have been done in chat rooms. Lectures delivered through Zoom. Campus life, gone.

So, as students and families contemplate the possibility of returning to On-Line life this fall, they may be considering other options.

“We’ve seen a lot of families who are probably thinking about community college for the first time,” said Allison Buckley, the vice president of enrollment management for Connecticut State Colleges & Universities. “It hadn’t been on their radar.”

Buckley said there’s been a five to 30 percent increase in applications at the state’s 12 community colleges.

“Families are open to the tremendous value that community colleges offer,” said Buckley.

Community colleges offer courses at a fraction of the tuition charged at private colleges and even state universities. Many credits are transferable and the courses mirror those of general education requirements elsewhere.

“It’s things like English composition or your general education courses that you want to take. It’s economics. It’s calculus,” said Buckley, sharing some examples of courses students might explore.

Buckley said in every economic downturn since the 1970s, people have turned to community colleges. Many students have started their collegiate experience this way and it could be an increased possibility for families during this economic crisis.

“I think it’s a great idea,” said Mary Ann Aitken, whose daughter began her college experience at Middlesex Community College.  “It’ll save a lot of money if they can’t go back to school anyway.”

Her daughter, Madison Aitken has firsthand experience. She attended Middlesex her freshman year and will graduate from Central Connecticut State University this year. She has some advice for those considering community college in the fall.

“For general education I don’t think it’s a big deal but for graduate-level classes or classes you need for your program then I think you should take them at the school that you picked,” she said.

Buckley said she also expects a higher enrollment of adults this fall as people consider career changes. She explained the state’s community colleges are a good way for an adult to better position themselves for re-entry into the workforce if they lost their job.

“People forget that in their own backyard they have such a tremendous educational opportunity,” said Buckley, “at a much lower cost.”

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