The announcement this week that Thomas Nelson Community College would layoff 45 employees to makeup for budget shortfalls was disappointing, but not all that surprising.
It seems like just a year ago that community colleges across the country were thriving. They offered a cost-effective alternative to the skyrocketing price tags (and student loan debts) at four-year schools, and they seemed to be ahead of the game in crafting curricula that could effectively matchup students with the most available jobs in the contemporary workforce.
But between 2011 and last fall, TNCC has lost almost a third of its student body—from more than 11,000 students to barely 7,500. This is reflective of a national trend in which enrollment at two-year institutions has dropped by 2-3% per year.
Conventional wisdom holds that community colleges do their best business in difficult economic times, and go fallow when Americans are making enough money to send their kids to four-year schools. But there are concerns that the current trend could have legs—declines in the U.S. birthrate have produced fewer potential college students, and state and federal funding has been harder to come by.
Community colleges have been under appreciated for along time, offering quality education at affordable prices, and working with their local business communities to produce ready-to-hire graduates.
We hope the national trends rebound, and that TNCC will always be a part of the Peninsula’s educational landscape.
- Daily Press October 25, 2019