Reasons to Choose a Community College

With their flexible schedule, qualified professors, and low tuition rates, community colleges are a key to opportunities. In fall 2009, more than 7.5 million students were enrolled at two-year colleges around the United States, according to a 2011 report from Thomas D. Snyder and Sally A. Dillow at the National Center for Education Statistics. That’s up by more than one-third from 1999, according to the Council of Graduate Schools, which called the jump “a rapid expansion.”

The council said that the majority (57 percent) of two-year college enrollees in fall 2009 were enrolled part-time. About 43 percent of two-year College attendees plan to complete an associate’s degree, while about 36 percent plan to transfer to a four-year institution, according to a 2008 report on community colleges by Stephen Provasnik and Michael Planty. Nevertheless, whether a student’s goal is to directly join the labor force or to transfer to a four-year institution, supporters say community colleges provide the training, teaching, and services that are needed in order to be successful.

Five reasons why a person might choose a community college:

  1. Lower Tuition Costs

According to the American Association of Community College, the average community college tuition fee for the 2013-2014 was $3,260 vs. $9,404 at public four-year universities and $18,850 at private institutions.

  1. Qualified Professors

Most community college professors find their work sincerely satisfying and they are very competent and confident to teach their matters. A recent national survey of community college faculty members, called B10, found that 73% report experiencing “joy” in their work and 71% believe their work is meaningful. “Teachers at community colleges are charged with connecting with students rather than putting half their time into research and publishing, which often requires putting a student assistant in charge of the actual teaching,” author Brandon Rogers said in his online article, “Why Choose a Community College?” At Middlesex Community College, for instance, there are several exceptionally qualified professors, such as David Kalivas, who has a Ph.D. from Northeastern University, a master’s from University of Connecticut, and a bachelor’s degree from Suffolk University. Kalivas is also the director of the Commonwealth Honors Program at MCC.

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  1. Flexible Schedule

More than 80 percent of community college students work part-time or full-time jobs and many have family responsibilities. Community colleges offer flexible schedules for both day and night courses, and sometimes on weekends, to accommodate working students and parents who appreciate the benefits of getting educated.

  1. Easy to Transfer

Transferring to a four-year university is so much easier once a student is in a community college. In fact, community college students have the chance to earn college credits while planning which university they would choose to pursue a higher education. According to the 2011 report made by the National Science Foundation, among doctorate recipients in academic year 2009-10, 12 percent had earned college credit from a community or two-year college at some point on their academic path. The American Association of Community College (AACC) claim that roughly 60 percent of students who transferred from a two-year institution to a four-year institution had graduated with a bachelor’s or higher degree within four years. The study shows that students who earned an associate degree before transferring had the highest baccalaureate completion rates at 71 percent. The AACC Transfer Success 2014 Report has shown that students moving from community colleges to public four-year colleges on average had the highest number of transferred credits (30.1). The same group of students also had the highest number of credits earned prior to transfer (37.7). Students switching from public four-year to another public four-year institution had a similar rate of credits transferring (26.2). The findings also show that about 56 percent of all credits transferred were from public two-year colleges.


  1. Smaller Classrooms

Community college classes are small, averaging 35 students per class, which allows for more interaction between students and instructors. Daniel W. Barwick, an associate professor of philosophy at the State University of New York College of Technology at Alfred, said class sizes at large universities can range upwards of 300 students in a single lecture hall. By contrast, the community college class size has an average of between 25 and 40 students per classroom. “There isn’t even a pretense that one teacher can effectively teach such a large set of students or that the arrangement is ideal; the teacher is equipped with a fleet of teaching ‘assistants,’” Barwick said in his online article, “Does Class Size Matters.” Barwick believes that such conditions are accepted as “a necessary evil that accompanies the large university.” However, the educational value of such a classroom setting is “dubious when compared to some of the alternatives,” the professor said. On the other hand, community colleges offer an environment in which students can simply talk and ask questions of teachers and colleagues, which not only helps them improve their critical thinking but also builds connections.

More Facts…

Not only are community colleges being helpful to students, but they help the U.S. economy as well. “The colleges benefit U.S. businesses by increasing consumer spending and supplying a steady flow of qualified, trained workers into the workforce,” says the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) 2012 report, which says community colleges have been a “boon to the American economy at large and to the individual student.”


AACC 2012 Report

“They enrich the lives of students by raising their lifetime incomes and helping them achieve their individual potential. They benefit society as a whole in the U.S. by creating a more prosperous economy and generating a variety of savings through the improved lifestyles of students,” says the report.

“In 2012 alone, the net total impact of community colleges on the U.S. economy was $809 billion in added income, equal to 5.4 percent of GDP. Over time, the U.S. economy will see even greater economic benefits, including $285.7 billion in increased tax revenue as students earn higher wages and $19.2 billion in taxpayer savings as students require fewer safety net services, experience better health, and lower rates of crime.”


One “Honest” Mistake


Via MCC Blog

Royall M. Mack Sr., who Gov. Deval Patrick appointed chairman of the Middlesex Community College board of trustees two years ago, has “bragged” for more than 10 years that he has an “executive MBA from Harvard University.” However, The Boston Herald reported Tuesday that the Ivy League school does not award that degree.

On the 11-year-old website of his corporation, Ciara Enterprises LLC, Mack Sr. has recorded that he received the graduate degree through the school’s Advanced Management Program. Yet, the program lasts eight weeks and awards only an official recognition for a current price of about $75,000. Furthermore, none of the Harvard Business School program has ever offered an “Executive MBA.”

In a Press Release dated Oct. 19, 2012, “GOVERNOR PATRICK APPOINTS ROYALL M. MACK, SR. AS CHAIR OF MIDDLESEX COMMUNITY COLLEGE BOARD OF TRUSTEES,” the governor said, “He earned a Bachelor of Science degree from North Carolina Agricultural & Technical State University, and graduated first in his class from Harvard University’s Advanced Management Program.”

“The class voted on the person that best represented the class,” Mack told the Herald. “That’s basically how it was positioned. … The classmates had to vote on it. It’s a very intense senior-level program.”

Mack said that his failure to accurate the website was an “honest mistake.” However, on his website, the error had not been fixed (as of Dec. 10).

Mack MCC

Patrick’s headquarters didn’t respond to precise inquiries about Mack. In its place, the governor released a statement saying all chairman nominations are handled through the Public Education Nominating Council before an endorsement is made to the governor.

On Dec. 10, the governor promised to “get the facts from the source,” while affirming that he does not have conversations with “individual appointees to community college boards (in advance).”


Via MCC Blog

The same day, Mack sent the following email to all MCC students, trustees, and employees:

“I want to take this opportunity to address an allegation that has surfaced this week regarding the misrepresentation of my academic credentials.  Media reports this week have called into question the authenticity of my academic achievements from Harvard University.  I want to make it clear that I attended the Harvard University Graduate School of Business Administration in 1991 and successfully completed the 109th session of their Advanced Management Program.

At no time have I personally represented that I obtained an executive MBA from Harvard as a result.  That information was gleaned by a web page designer, from a completion certificate I received from Harvard.  The web designer misinterpreted that information and included it in web-based biographies that were included on several websites as well as announcements from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts related to my appointment as chair of the Middlesex Community College Board of Trustees.

This clarification has been communicated to the Commissioner of Higher Education in Massachusetts.

I want to assure all of you that I place the highest possible value on personal integrity and would never intentionally misrepresent such an academic achievement, and in no way whatsoever should this reflect at all on any of the outstanding work being performed by the MCC Board of Trustees nor any of the college’s staff, faculty, or students.”

As the Middlesex board gathered to name President Carole Cowan’s replacement on Dec 11, Cowan and other trustees said they have confidence in Mack regardless of the reports. Trustee Paul E. Means, a former state representative from Stoneham, said the chairman had been “beaten up in the press” but that he did a “very good job” in guiding the search for a new president; however, “The appearance stretches the credibility that person has when something like this happens,” said Means.

Cowan, in a brief interview, told a Herald reporter that “you’d have to talk to (Mack)” and said his inflated resume doesn’t concern her. “Full confidence,” she said of him.

UPDATE: Dec. 12

In a three-paragraph resignation letter sent to the governor on Dec 12, Mack says that he quits with “great regret and inestimable pride” in MCC. Just a day before, Mack chaired the board’s final meeting of the year, where they selected James Mabry as MCC new president, replacing the outgoing Carole Cowan, who is leaving her $260,000-a-year post after more than 20 years.

Mack's Letter