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CCsmart.org Helps Americans Understand the Value of a Community College Education

CCsmart is tackling head-on the issue of declining enrollments at two- and four-year colleges by introducing a new web resource for students and parents.

As a nation, we are facing an increased need for a skilled, trained workforce while simultaneously facing decreased student participation in college. Good jobs—the ones with better pay, health insurance, and other benefits—require post-secondary education degrees and credentials.

For community colleges, data show participation has declined by 19% or 1.33 million students in the last decade, with 8% of the loss resulting directly from the COVID-19 pandemic. Community college remains the most affordable choice (avg: $3,800/year) in higher education and is 40% of the average tuition costs at four-year public institutions. These institutions offer many different avenues to employment and career development with workforce and transfer pathways designed to maximize quality education in flexible, affordable ways that work for students and families.

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People facing decisions about college now have free access to CCsmart, a new resource providing people with the tools they need to make the best and most informed choices about their higher ed journey. Central to CCsmart’s mission is a new website and information portal, CCsmart.org. Access to the site is free with no registration required, it is mobile-friendly, ADA-optimized, and provides seamless navigation to help students on the go find the information they need to achieve their goals.

CCsmart is an evidenced-based and data driven website designed to make it easier to find reliable information about higher education pathways, from workforce training to associate degrees to transfer options to bachelor’s degrees. It also provides easy to understand information about financial options for various credential and degree options and aid options beyond just Pell Grants and the FAFSA. CCsmart aims to reduce the stress of starting the higher education experience at any age or stage of life.

“Right now, these colleges are underutilized, and we have to fix that,” said Dr. Lynn Tincher-Ladner, CCsmart/Phi Theta Kappa’s CEO and President. “CCsmart is about creating awareness of what these colleges have to offer, and it is also about fixing the short supply of skilled and trained workers needed for a strong U.S. economy.”

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PTK’s 2022 International Student President, Tala Alahmar, is passionate about the opportunities that community colleges offer for everyone. “Community college instructors know your name and your circumstances. This is a resource that can be accessed any time, and from anywhere,” Alahmar said. “I thrived at a community college, and CCsmart is our way of telling people the stigma around community college is wrong. It is the exact opposite—people are smart to choose them, and here are the reasons why.”

CCsmart was created in response to an idea championed by a group of Phi Theta Kappa students who wanted to share the success and pride they had for being community college students and encourage others to take a deeper look at all of the opportunities community colleges provide, particularly to first generation college students and underserved populations.

CCsmart is a new subsidiary of Phi Theta Kappa (PTK), the 104-year old nonprofit organization recognized as the official honor society of the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC), with the mission of assisting students considering community college as their next educational step.

“There are many options and paths in the higher education process, and community college can be a great option,” Dr. George Boggs, Chair of PTK’s Board of Directors, said. “Community colleges offer technical and vocational training programs which can enhance opportunities for better, higher-paying jobs, and there are many two-year paths for careers such as nursing. It’s also a great place to start your path toward a bachelor’s or advanced degree from a four-year university.”

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[To share your insights with us, please write to sghosh@martechseries.com]

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