February 14, 2014
What’s with all the recent name changes? The former Adams State College is now Adams State University; the former Metropolitan State College is now Metro State University of Denver; the former Mesa State College is now Colorado Mesa University; and the former Western State College is now Western State Colorado University. Name changes are warranted when the mission of an institution changes; however, in the case of those colleges (I mean universities) mentioned here, nothing changed except the name. Coupled with the four-year “college” to “university” name change, is a national trend to remove “community” from community college without changing the mission of the college. Let’s get real. We need to be honest and advertise what we deliver.
While it’s true that community colleges do the same thing as a university in offering the first two years of the same classes leading to a baccalaureate degree, community colleges do much more. Community colleges provide career and technical education for students desiring to launch their careers after the completion of a specialized program; they provide continuing education (classes for personal interest); and they provide customized training for business and industry. Every component of the community college mission impacts the local community’s workforce and the local quality of life. The same can’t be said for the four-year institution.
In addition to the comprehensive mission of the community college, many community colleges offer service programs to meet the unique needs of their respective communities. At Morgan Community College (MCC), these service programs include the nationally recognized Workplace Education Program at Cargill and the Adult Basic Education program on MCC’s Fort Morgan campus. MCC provides classes for English language learners (ELL – sometimes referred to as ESL or English as a Second Language), GED preparation, and basic academic skills for adult students that need to refresh their skills for self-improvement or in preparation to successfully matriculate through college courses.
In comparison with the other types of institutions in higher education, the community college is the most flexible for rapidly adjusting to cutting edge trends in innovations and for meeting the changing needs of the local workforce. The ability to be pliable has made the community college the fastest growing entity in higher education. And because of its practical mission, the community college has been able to attract highly qualified faculty that could easily teach at a university but choose to teach at a community college for a variety of reasons – including the student-centered environment for which community colleges are known.
Other factors that have contributed to the rapid growth of the comprehensive community college are the small student-teacher ratios where students have more personal interaction with their instructors; the faculty have the ability to continuously change the curriculum to make sure the learning outcomes are relevant to the real world; and the cost of a community college education is about one-third the cost of a public university education for the identical classes.
There used to be a negative connotation associated with “community college” based on a myth that the quality of education was not as good as a “real” college. The typical community college has been, for many years, counteracting the negative perception with a positive image of quality. The stories of students who begin their college experiences at a community college and subsequently succeed in achieving bachelor’s degrees and beyond, launch successful careers, and contribute as productive citizens, is impressive.
Morgan Community College is a leader among the nation’s community colleges when it comes to a reputation for quality. MCC has been ranked as one of America’s top 50 community colleges and, last year, Colorado’s top community college scholar, the New Century Scholar, was a MCC student. This particular student was also named to the USA All-Academic Team – one of the top 20 community college scholars in the United States. Numerous MCC students have also emerged from MCC to successfully complete their college degrees at ivy-league schools such as Cornell, Harvard, and Stanford – as well as other prestigious public universities. And in the Career-Tech Education field, MCC students are consistently winning national gold medals and translating their highly-honed skills back into the local workforce.
Should Morgan Community College follow the national trend and take community out of our name? No way! We at MCC are proud of our name; we’re proud to be part of our community; and we’re honored to be able to give back to our community so that our larger eastern Colorado community can prosper. We advertise what we deliver.