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  • Writer's pictureBeth & Tim Manners

Elite Colleges Tap Community Students

The New York Times: "Community colleges are the workhorses of higher education. They don’t charge a lot and they take everybody. It’s why nearly a third of college students in the United States attend one. They often are treated as places where workers retrain, add technical skills and earn job certifications. But they also have a quieter role, helping students earn two-year degrees that prepare them to transfer to a four-year college. In our status-conscious higher education hierarchy, however, the firepower of those campuses and their students is often overlooked."

"Williams College, a private liberal arts school in Massachusetts, enrolled eight transfer students from community colleges this year (up from two last year), including Lara and Jason Meintjes, who earned two associate degrees each at Long Beach City College in California while working multiple jobs. They moved to Massachusetts with their daughter, a sophomore now enrolled at Mount Greylock Regional High School. 'There has been a shift in how we think of really talented students from different backgrounds,' said Maud Mandel, the president of Williams. Such students, she said, 'represent a different kind of diversity on campus'.”

"Rising college costs have capable middle-class students rethinking how to structure their educations. It’s shaking up how a 'normal' college experience is defined, said Meghan Hughes, the president of the Community College of Rhode Island. Given federal data showing that nearly half of the students who earn a bachelor’s degree started at a community college, Dr. Hughes said, 'We are now the mainstream ... They are just ‘college students' ... But they are college students who 'make it work with duct tape,' she added. Such students are also challenging what college is for, particularly the part where you go in order to grow up."

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