Community Colleges

Community Colleges

The first step after high school for many is an affordable community college.

Community colleges enroll 41 percent of all U.S. undergraduates, but too many people are unfamiliar with these locally rooted workforce training and education organizations and what they offer. While colleges and universities featuring bachelor’s programs have been engaged in a brand positioning race for years, community colleges have not had the resources to launch sophisticated brand-building or marketing efforts that make vital campus-to-community connections.

Lumina Foundation believes community colleges are a central part of higher education and essential to ensuring that 60 percent of Americans earn credentials of value after high school, whether associate degrees, college certificates, or industry-recognized certifications. That is why we promote brand-building and marketing efforts at America’s community colleges through Community College Insights.

Community colleges, also known as two-year colleges, provide accessible and affordable education to students who might not have the means or academic backgrounds to attend four-year colleges or universities. These institutions offer a wide range of programs and services designed to support students in achieving their educational goals. Community colleges typically have open-admissions policies, which means they accept all students with a high school diploma or equivalent. This makes them accessible to adults and students with lower GPAs or who did not take advanced coursework in high school.

Community colleges charge lower tuition than four-year colleges and universities, making them an affordable option for students who want to finish general education requirements or gain technical skills before transferring to earn bachelor’s degrees. Community colleges also offer career and technical education, including nursing, welding, computer science, and the culinary arts. These programs provide students with skills and training to enter high-demand fields. These colleges offer support services to help students succeed, such as academic advising, career counseling, income-based financial aid, and tutoring.

Community colleges disproportionately educate and train adults of color, people from low-income families, immigrants, and first-generation college students. They are poorly resourced relative to four-year colleges and universities.

More on Community Colleges

Embrace culture and nature with Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College

The college has created an environment that embodies its values and embraces the surrounding landscape as an extension of the teaching and learning environment. From the outdoor classroom where students and community members can learn under the sky to the medicine garden, expertly shaped like a turtle to cultivate traditional medicines and preserve traditional teachings, each step on campus offers more surprises. The rotunda is an architectural beauty that is also deeply spiritual in meaning. Beams fashioned from trees on the land frame the space, and the walls allow light and nature to flood the room—and your imagination.  

Lessons from Guam: How a small college is creating big opportunities

What can colleges in the mainland U.S. learn from a small island college in a remote part of Micronesia? A lot! We traveled to the U.S. territory of Guam to understand how they use ingenuity to meet the workforce needs of this unique island. Guam Community College (GCC) is a small but mighty college with impressive industry partnerships that create opportunities for its students to apply what they’ve learned and transform their lives.

The college brand in action

At Lumina Foundation, we understand the power of a brand. It’s something we think about daily. Are we staying true to our mission? Are we creating experiences with our grantees that are inclusive and designed for success? When people visit our website, walk through our office doors, or interact with our staff, do they have an experience that is memorable, inclusive, and representative of all that we stand for?
Karime Lopez celebrates after receiving her degree from Madera Community College at the school’s 2022 commencement.
CC Insights

Community Colleges Have Great Stories to Tell

Community colleges across the country offer unique experiences that connect students with work in their communities. Check out the creativity, diversity, and ingenuity of campuses serving today’s students close to home.

Telling a Better Story about Community Colleges
Latest News

Community Colleges

News stories on community colleges recently featured in Daily Lumina News. Get these and more higher-ed headlines delivered to your inbox.

Inside Out: Community Colleges Far and Wide

The Million Dollar Community College Challenge team is shining a spotlight on the great work of community colleges around the country. They traveled far and wide to bring you what’s interesting and unique in the two-year space. Often featured as the open access and lower cost option in higher education, those descriptors don’t illustrate the creativity, ingenuity, and diversity of the community college experience.

Guam Community College

Next up, we’re traveling to the U.S. territory of Guam to visit Guam Community College, which is steeped in history and culture, and all in on workforce programming. There’s never been a stronger sense of community in college. Guam Community College might be far from the mainland United States, but its faculty and staff are working tirelessly to improve opportunities close to home.

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Yavapai College

Hands-on training and student engagement are the norm at Yavapai College in Prescott, Arizona. Whether it involves using 3-D printing technology to revolutionize the way homes are built or offering vineyard-to-bottle education with programs in enology, leaders at Yavapai are investing in opportunities for the future.

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Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College

For the first visit in the series: Inside Out: Community Colleges Far and Wide, we traveled to Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College in Cloquet, Minnesota where art, culture, and nature intersect to create a powerful and memorable education experience.

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