from Montgomery College
900 Hungerford Drive,
Suite 140, Rockville, MD 20850
For Immediate Release (00-12)
Date: April 4, 2000
Contact: Steve Simon, 240-567-7952 (Pager #301-930-3880)
Survey Shows Community Colleges
Key in Technology-Based Economy
Montgomery College, With 15,000 in Tech Courses,
Among Community Colleges Participating in Study
(Montgomery County, Maryland) -- Montgomery College and other two-year
colleges across the nation are playing a critical role in delivering skills
to keep leading industries competitive and have become the de facto provider
of choice for computer training, according to national survey findings
released today in Washington, DC.
Conducted jointly by the American Association of Community Colleges
(AACC) and ACT, the “Faces of the Future” survey examined a nationally
representative sampling of both credit and non-credit students from the
10.4 million students enrolled in the nation’s 1,132 community, junior,
and technical colleges. Among key findings are:
Students from 18 to 80 are turning to community colleges for computer-related
education, giving the colleges a critical role in narrowing the “digital
divide.” Gaining computer/technology skills was reported as a major
reason for attending for 18% of all credit respondents. This was
especially true for roughly one-quarter of first-generation students (23%),
single parents (25%), and unemployed individuals (24%). The percentage
of students seeking computer skills increased with age: 24% of students
aged 26-39; 32% of students aged 40-59; and 35% of students aged 60 or
Community colleges are a critical link in producing the quantity
and quality of workers needed to fuel the exploding technology industry,
a fact that may fundamentally change the nature of non-credit coursework.
Over 1 in 10 (12%) credit students who reported they were training for
a new career were studying in a computer or communications-related field,
including 16% of students aged 40-59. Currently most states do not
fund non-credit classes, and most 4-year colleges and universities do not
accept for transfer coursework completed for high-demand certifications
such as Novell and Cisco Systems.
Students who have already attained advanced degrees choose community
colleges to upgrade skills. Almost one-third (28%) of non-credit students
at respondent colleges had already earned bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral
Community colleges play a substantial role generally in preparing students
for today’s workplace. Among credit students, 60% said the major
reason for taking classes was to meet occupational requirements.
Nearly half of full-time, employed credit students said that increasing
their earning power was a major motivator, and 37% said the major reason
for attending was to make a career change. On the non-credit side,
13% of students said their employers’ requiring them to take classes was
a major reason they enrolled, a finding that correlates with the increasing
amount of customized “contract” training for business community colleges
have reported over the last decade.
In a decade of steeply rising tuitions, community colleges are the best
and sometimes only hope to ensure career and earning competitiveness for
the least skilled and most economically disadvantaged. Of non-credit
students, 29% who were unemployed and seeking work reported public assistance
as a source of funds; 18% reported it as a major source of funds.
Over half of community college students are first-generation students whose
parents did not attend college. These students are more likely to
be attending part-time, older, minority, and seeking job-specific skills.
Among first-generation students, 22% reported household incomes of less
than $20,000, and they were more likely to have come from homes where English
is not the primary language spoken.
Far from the “second choice” status community colleges have long endured,
students who “try the product” report positive reactions. More than
80% of students from respondent colleges were satisfied or highly
satisfied with their community college experience.
The “Faces of the Future” study was conducted in credit and non-credit
classrooms in fall 1999. More than 100,000 students at 245 community
colleges in 41 states responded.
“That statistic is a ringing endorsement from students,” said ACT President
Richard L. Ferguson. “Our survey points to the effectiveness of community
college curriculum and its impact on helping people achieve their life
and career goals. Community colleges are building the skills of the
nation’s workforce, helping bridge the digital divide and giving people
a convenient and cost-effective way to pursue lifelong learning.”
AACC sees the new data as validation of the greatly expanded and significantly
underfunded value of the community college mission. Although the
colleges enroll almost half of all U.S. undergraduates, they receive less
than 30% of state and local higher education dollars. In addition,
community colleges enroll higher percentages of women, minority students,
older adults, and the disabled – groups the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
predicts will provide most new workers in the future.
Two years ago, in response the growing demand for information technology
workers and in recognition of the importance of technology in today's economy,
Montgomery College launched its Information Technology Institute. Last
year, the college had over 15,000 enrollments in technology-related courses,
including 11,000 in credit courses and 4,000 in non-credit offerings. The
spectrum of course offerings included basic computer skills through advanced
technical training in computer programming, network administration and
database administration. The College's strategic partnerships with Microsoft's
Authorized Academic Training Program and Oracle's international Oracle
Academic Initiative, and other public-private partnerships have fueled
the institute's early growth.
"Montgomery College has always been responsive to the needs of its students
and its community," said Charlene R. Nunley, president of Montgomery College.
"Our commitment to keeping pace with the rapidly changing technology-based
economy -- through our Information Technology Institute, our biotechnology
program and other initiatives -- is another example of how the community
college is, once again, rising to meet the demands of our students and
“Over their 100-year history, community colleges have significantly
expanded their role in keeping the great ‘engine’ of this nation running,”
said AACC President David Pierce. “But they have often gone underfunded
and unrecognized for the contribution they make to the academic enterprise.
This study documents the essential and, in the case of computer literacy,
leading role the colleges are playing.”
AACC and ACT plan to make the national survey an annual activity to
provide ongoing data about this largest sector of higher education.
# # #
ACT, Inc. is an independent, not-for-profit organization
that provides more than a hundred assessment, research, information and
program management services in the broad areas of education planning, career
planning, and workforce development. Each year ACT serves millions
of people in high schools, colleges, professional associations, businesses
and governmental agencies – nationally and internationally. Though
designed to meet a wide array of needs, all ACT programs and services have
one guiding purpose: to help people achieve education and career goals
by providing information for life’s transitions.
The American Association of Community Colleges is a
national organization representing more than 1,100 community, junior, and
technical colleges and their 10.4 million students. The colleges
enroll almost half of all U.S. undergraduates.