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Community College Cup Is Half-Full

TimesLedger Newspapers

A report recently released by the Center for an Urban Future claims that city community colleges “are not yet delivering on all their potential.” And it reached this conclusion because, like other community colleges in the city, LaGuardia and Queensborough have only a 28 percent graduation rate.

The study claims that “in New York City, 28 percent of community college students graduate with an associate or bachelor’s degree within six years of enrolling.” The study notes that enrollment at the CUNY colleges has grown rapidly in recent years due to the realization that an associate degree is a basic requirement for a decent paying job.

Is that true? Ask the thousands of graduates with bachelor’s and associate degrees how hard it is to find a job.

Why the low graduation rates? “To begin with,” says the report, “community colleges are open-access institutions and they accept whoever applies. A significant number of students already face steep hurdles when they enter. Four out of five must take at least one remedial class. Three in 10 are working more than 20 hours a week to earn a living.”

The report overlooks the important role community colleges play in Queens. These colleges serve as points of entry for thousands of students who otherwise might not experience a college education.

The fact that these colleges are open-access, meaning almost any student can get in, puts these colleges in a unique position to serve the community. In addition, these colleges often offer seminars and workshops not geared to degrees but that nevertheless have value.

According to Forbes magazine, community colleges play a major role in the economy. The magazine claims that “59% of new nurses and the majority of other new health care workers are educated at community colleges, while 80% of firefighters, law enforcement officers and emergency medical technicians are credentialed there.”

While we would like to see the graduation rates increase, it is important to recognize the real contribution that LaGuardia and Queensborough community colleges continue to make to Queens.

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