WASHINGTON POST: Even for-profit universities are better than America’s terrible community colleges

Career College Central Summary:

  • President Obama announced a plan Friday to provide free community college to any “responsible” student who wanted it.
  • That’s a bad idea. Community colleges perform poorly, and any additional government subsidy of these already heavily subsidized, weak performers would likely be a waste of money. For proof, compare them to  much derided for-profit institutions. While these schools have their own flaws, their students do better on a variety of measures.
  • Take completion rates. According to the federal Digest of Education Statistics, only 19.5 percent of first-time, full-time students at two-year public schools finish their programs within 150 percent of the time they are slated to take. So less than 20 percent finish a two-year degree within three years, or, say,  a 10-month certificate program within 15 months. And that rate has fallen even since 2000, when 23.6 percent of students completed.
  • That statistic doesn’t change much when you account for student transfers. According to the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, only 20 percent of community college students transfer to four-year institutions. Four years later, 72 percent of those have completed their degree or remain enrolled. That inches the success rate to roughly 34 percent. Meanwhile, the for-profit sector that has been so heavily demonized by the administration has an almost 63 percent completion rate at two-year institutions, and that has been rising steadily since the 2000 cohort.

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