California Community Colleges: "The Equalizer"
The California Community Colleges have often been called, “The Equalizer.” For many of our minority students, without the community college system, the door for advancement through education would be closed. Community colleges enroll more minority students than any other higher education system. Slightly over 7% of the students attending the California Community Colleges are African American. They represent 6% of the overall California population. Asian students comprise 11% of the students attending the California Community Colleges. They represent 12% of the overall California population. Hispanic students attending the California Community Colleges represent 30%. They represent 37% of the overall California population.
It appears that for most adults who have higher education training, they began their higher education either at a community college or somewhere along the line, attended one. California’s Community Colleges are the largest higher education system in the world. There are 72 districts, 112 colleges, and 2.8 million students who are attending one of our colleges at this time. Our colleges serve 73 percent of all students enrolled in California higher education. Approximately 24% of all the community college students nationwide are enrolled in a California community college. Two-thirds of all CSU graduates and over one-third of UC graduates began their college training at a community college or transferred from a community college.
Many successful people attended community college. Celebrities like actors Tom Hanks, Clint Eastwood, Halle Berry, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Terri Hatcher, Queen Latifah, Billy Crystal, and Eddi Murphy to mention some. Director George Lucas and CSI, CSI Miami, and CSI New York creator Anthony E Zuiker attended community college. Former Speaker of the House, Jim Wright, media personality Jim Lehrer, former Presidential candidate Ross Perot, and Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin also attended community college. Sports heroes Nolan Ryan, Bill Bradly, Steve Largent, and Jack Kemp to name just a small number attended community colleges.The advantages of attending a California community college are many, however, here are just a few. We have an open door policy. This means that anyone with a high school diploma or GED may attend. We are close to home. As the word community indicates the proximity to your home, one of the 112 colleges are close to where you live. The cost of attending a community college is also an incentive. The student fees of $26 per unit are the lowest tuition paid in the entire United States. However, over 1/3 of our students qualify for a waiver of those fees because of the financial status. The ability to transfer to a prestigious college as a junior is also an advantage to attending a community college. Two-third of California community college students who transfer to UC complete a bachelor’s degree within three years of entering UC? This rate is comparable to the UC students who entered as freshmen. Also, those students who transfer from California community colleges to the University of California account for 48% of UC’s bachelor’s degrees in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics? Our community colleges train many of our public workers. Over 80% of California’s first responders: the firefighters, law enforcement officers, and EMTs are credentialed at the California Community Colleges. Slightly over 70% of the nurses in California received their education from the California Community Colleges. We also train carpenters, electricians, auto mechanic specialists, flight attendants, computer technology specialist, and many other community partnered programs.