“The pendulum has swung” toward community colleges.
In a recent Star Tribune article, community colleges were recognized for offering an inexpensive, fast-track path to employment. Although once regarded as “the 13th grade,” popular opinion about community college has since changed.
“I’m saving a ton of money,” said Chris Barnes, a student at Normandale Community College in Bloomington, Minn. Students choose community colleges for the relatively lower costs, breadth of technical programs offered, variety in class times and for many other reasons.
“When I started counseling 10 years ago…people thought of college [as] a four-year college. We’ve seen a shift away from that,” said Barbara Kurtz, lead secondary school counselor in the St. Paul public schools.
At Minneapolis Community and Technical College (MCTC), enrollment has increased 34 percent in the last seven years. Some students use MCTC as a steppingstone to a four-year college. Others pursue one of the more than 130 liberal arts, career and technical programs and jump into the job stream in two years.