HOUSTON (July 29, 2009) – The Houston heat is not the only thing breaking records this summer. Enrollment for the Lone Star College System has been rising like mercury, especially at the Kingwood campus. With numbers approaching a 10 percent growth in students served, it has been a good summer for LSC-Kingwood and for community colleges in general.
A recent article called, “Can Community Colleges Save the U.S. Economy?” written by Laura Fitzpatrick and published in Time magazine, highlights the positive effect community colleges are having on this struggling economy. And Washington is paying attention. Calling them “one of the best tools the U.S. has to dig itself out of the current economic hole”, President Obama tapped two former community college officials for top posts in the Education Department. According to Time, Obama also announced a public relations campaign headed by Jill Biden, the Vice President's wife and a longtime community-college professor to raise awareness about the power of these schools to train new and laid-off workers.
Fitzpatrick’s article cites several factors unique to community colleges in contrast to their four-year counterparts that, as Education Secretary Arne Duncan declared, "will play a big role in getting America back on its feet again."
• Community Colleges are our nation's trade schools, training 59 percent of new nurses and offering other career programs for jobs requiring highly skilled workers.
• Community-college graduates earn up to 30 percent more than high school graduates, a boon that helps state and local governments reap a 16 percent return on every dollar they invest in community colleges.
• The 1,200 community colleges in the U.S. are especially suited to helping students adapt to a changing labor market, while four-year universities are by nature slow-moving. Community colleges, on the other hand, are smaller and able to adapt quickly. They often partner with local businesses and offer courses in response to industry needs, getting students in and out and ready to work — fast.
“LSC-Kingwood is helping to lead economic recovery in our area, providing workforce training and college transfer courses to students in record numbers,” said Dr. Rebecca Riley, Interim Vice President of Instruction and Student Success. “LSC-Kingwood has the capacity to fill the growing demand for higher education and the dedication to serve our community with timely and responsive programming. We look forward to a banner year!”
The nation’s burgeoning interest in community colleges has often been partnered with funding constraints and enrollment caps, but so far Lone Star College is lucky. LSC-Kingwood continues to offer open enrollment and low tuition, two factors very attractive to new job seekers.