The role of the community college is changing. Much of the educational landscape across the country has seen fundamental changes, and community colleges are not immune. Since almost half of all college students in the United States attend community colleges, these schools play a significant role in addressing wealth and income disparities. Considerable numbers of first-generation, low-income and older students are community college students reaching their goals for a better future.
At the forefront of supporting students are higher education administrators. Community college administrators can innovate to adapt to fluctuating student enrollment, increased use of technology in the classroom and changing hierarchies.
A Master of Arts in Higher Education Administration with a concentration in Leadership Studies online program from William Paterson University (WP) can give you the practical knowledge you need to take on a role of an administrator in higher education. This program provides an in-depth study of the organization, structure, history and administration of colleges and universities around the globe.
Key Factors Impacting Community Colleges in the Future
The increasing cost of four-year colleges and universities, the rising price of living and significant unemployment rates have impacted enrollment at community colleges. Still, there are many challenges facing community college administrators and defining the role of community colleges in our society. The following are some of the major issues in higher education at the community college level:
- Staying current with emerging technology. Online learning has become increasingly popular and, in some cases, necessary for higher education programs. However, for many community colleges, lacking the funds to offer online degree programs negatively impacts how they can meet each student’s needs. To stay relevant, community colleges need to adapt and change teaching methods to accommodate the needs of students and provide learning opportunities while working closely with local K-12 schools.
- Having the ability to adapt and change. Since the role of community colleges has changed over time, administrators who understand instruction and know-how to direct a school’s activities are needed. Those who can form relationships with local leaders, incorporate new funding models and work with K-12 schools and local businesses will adapt to the changing times.
- Considering possible consolidation. To save money, some community colleges have combined with other four-year colleges or universities to save costs. Some smaller community colleges in more rural areas lack funding and experience fluctuations in student enrollment due to lower high school graduation numbers. Community college leaders will have to adjust economic development to compete with four-year schools.
- Developing a skilled workforce. Our modern economy relies on people with critical-thinking, problem-solving, technical and communication skills. Therefore, community college administrators need to consider seamlessly transitioning students into employment opportunities that can translate into college credit and experience.
- Building financial stability. Community college leaders must plan a strategy to build and sustain financial stability for their schools. Administrators who develop creative solutions can reduce the dependence on public support and lessen the load on students. Finding ways to reduce expenses and raise funds is a significant challenge for any community college administrator.
If you’re interested in developing management skills and professional traits to become a higher education administrator, WP’s online Master of Arts in Higher Education Administration program may be right for you. Students will learn about the different facets of the contemporary higher education system, including legal issues, student development, finance, policies and how to lead with knowledge and real-world experience.