The Benefits of Large Community Colleges
Large community colleges offer state-of-the-art technology centers, up-to-date nursing clinics, job centers, and recreational facilities. Students attending some of the country’s largest community colleges enjoy a rich college experience including football games, shows at world-class performing arts centers, campus clubs and associations, and inter-campus libraries.
Big schools think big. A San Francisco community college that serves more than 100,000 students, for example, has the resources to offer more than 50 academic degree fields and 100 occupational-related programs. Its technology division can support 70 computer labs across 11 locations.
In California, a Los Angeles community college district serving 130,000 students across nine campuses is able to offer vocational or technical programs through alliances with industries that provide job development, childcare, and work-study services to its students. There are 72 designated regional occupation programs that ensure that technical courses match skill requirements in private industry.
Because large community colleges have a sizeable number of students who wish to transfer to four-year universities, they forge academic relationships with state or regional colleges to ensure a smooth transition. One large community college has such arrangements with 76 four-year institutions across the nation to make certain that students’ two-year general education credits meet academic transfer requirements at target schools. One large central Florida junior college offers an associate degree that is “guaranteed” to transfer to any state university in Florida.
Some of America’s largest community colleges have earned international reputations for their specialized academic training programs. The nursing degree program at one large Texas community college, for instance, is recognized as one of the nation’s finest health programs. A community college in Utah offers a world-class All-Steinway school, and is one of the only 23 two-year programs to receive a National Association of Schools of Music accreditation. A large community college in eastern Washington offers majors in viticulture and operates a winery.
The faculty members at large community colleges are focused on teaching rather than personal research. Additionally, many instructors hail directly from the professions they teach and hold years of practical experience, making them true experts in the field.
Large community colleges can be financially empowered to offer students unique educational and recreational opportunities. One military-based community college, for example, offers extracurricular flight training through a local partnership, providing students with instruction leading to a private pilot’s license. An Iowa junior college recently built a large fitness facility staffed with athletic trainers that is open to the entire community. A California community college has been host to the largest invitational cross-country competition in the world.
Even with the huge savings in tuition and fees they provide over four-year universities, many community colleges offer a wide range of financial aid packages for students. Traditional aid includes Perkins Loans, Plus Loans, Pell Grants, work-study and scholarships. Some of the larger community colleges offer scholarships to students enrolled in transfer programs, particularly those hailing from underserved populations, and in vocational programs with corporate sponsorships. Below is a list of the most affordable large community colleges that offer many of the benefits discussed above on top of low tuition and fees: