COLLEGE PRESIDENTS SHARE THEIR VIEWS
Community Colleges: Kingsborough Scores
Amid the excitement of a new school year, there are almost 100,000 students who will be attending our city’s community colleges. For many, community colleges are almost invisible. Despite the fact that they have been serving this city since the early 1960s, the six community colleges of The City University of New York (CUNY) remain little known and underappreciated. Were we living in any rural, suburban, or small-city environment in America, the local community college would be the focus of much attention and support. But, because we live where so much attention is directed to many large well-endowed, well-known universities and to the considerable difficulties of the public school systems, our community colleges and the important work that they do often go unnoticed.
Just consider this. Did you know that nearly 48 percent of all students in higher education today attend community colleges? Did you know that almost 80 percent of all uniformed police and firefighters received their degrees at a community college? If you’ve been ill or in a hospital recently, it is likely that the X-ray technician, the nurse who cared for you, the surgical technician in the operating room, and the respiratory or physical therapy assistant who provided your rehab are graduates of community colleges. Have you eaten in a restaurant lately, traveled or frequented a hotel? If so, the airline reservation clerk, the hotel manager, the chef or the restaurant owner were probably trained at a community college. Need a Web site, a brochure, some help learning how to use your computer? You can bet that the majority of those you contacted were educated at our community colleges.
CUNY’s community colleges educate students aged 18 to 80, living in every borough and coming from every country around the world. They provide extraordinary challenge to students with exceptional academic talent, while also providing a second chance to those who’ve had less academic success. Many graduates go directly into the city’s workforce while for others, the community college degree is the first step on a journey towards a baccalaureate, master’s or doctoral degree.
At CUNY’s Kingsborough Community College, for example, we enroll nearly 18,000 students, who come from 142 different countries and speak 73 different languages. Over 50 percent of our students have family incomes below $30,000. Most struggle to find the means to pay tuition, buy books and purchase Metrocards. But struggle they do, because they believe that education holds the key to a better life for themselves and their families. We who work at Kingsborough believe that, too, and are committed to ensuring their success. It is not surprising, then, that community colleges have been called the “new Ellis Island.”
So, as another school year begins, think for a moment about the extraordinary work that is being accomplished by the faculty who teach at and the students who study at our city’s community colleges. Support them and be thankful. In so many ways, your life, our lives and the future of this city depend on their success. #