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Winter 2002-03 Vol. 46, Number 4

The changing role of community college

Academic preparation is still a core function of community colleges. But today their mission is more comprehensive, thanks to a gradual shift toward vocational education, job training, and programs catering to the community.


During the past century, community colleges have grown tremendously in number and have changed with the times. No other segment of postsecondary education has been more responsive to its communityís workforce needs. At community colleges, students can learn at any point in their lives while taking advantage of low tuition, convenient campus locations, open admissions, and comprehensive course offerings.

Community colleges have long granted associate degrees that typically take about 2 years of full-time study to complete. These programs offer students the traditional college-level courses that lead to an associate degree and prepare students for further study toward a bachelorís degree. Community colleges also offer vocationally oriented associate degrees that prepare students for careers.

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U.S. Department of Labor
Bureau of Labor Statistics

Last Updated: May 22, 2003