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Creation of Professional Students

An article in last week’s Albuquerque Journal noted that CNM has surpassed UNM:

For the first time, Central New Mexico Community College has edged out the University of New Mexico as the state’s largest higher-education institution.

CNM had 172 more students enrolled this spring than the University of New Mexico.

“I think it is a true testament to the quality of this institution. And of course I might be taking it a little too far, but the reality is that we’re flexible, and we create opportunities for students to do distance learning and to come in the evenings and come on the weekends,” CNM President Katharine Winograd said.

I’m not quite sure I agree with CNM’s President. I think this switch has a lot more to do with the state of the economy than education quality of the institution. It’s pretty simple when you think about it. People have less money right now, and it’s cheaper to attend community college than it is to attend a traditional university.

Plus, more people need to get retrained for available jobs and community colleges have always done a better job of providing training related education. This trend is likely to continue if President Obama gets his way:

President Obama announced new steps to help unemployed Americans on Friday, targeting people who are out of work and want to go back to school.

The president outlined a plan under which the Department of Education will send colleges legal guidance, encouraging them to increase financial aid packages for the unemployed so they can enroll in educational and training programs while keeping their unemployment benefits.

That last part gives me pause… collecting unemployment while going to school. As it is, the cost of public education is subsidized by the taxpayers. Now, we’re going to pay unemployment benefits on top of this subsidy? Community colleges have no entrance exams. Anyone can attend. Will some people take classes in order to avoid going to work. Will there be any penalty if they do not pass the classes with a “C” or higher?