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Are Community Colleges Pricing Themselves Out of the Market?

Not too long ago, a community college might charge up to $100 for all the classes you might want to take after the “full load” of classes. Today, a single 3 credit class can cost over $500!  Then, you have to buy books, parking, and possibly pay other fees previously not charged.

Various studies have shown that college tuition increases have outpaced other costs of living such as housing.

Without examining the causes of constant tuition increases, what are some of the effects these increases have?

1.  Huge debt loads for students
2.  Deciding if college is even worth it
3.  Only taking classes that are absolutely required
4.  Community colleges not offering some interesting classes (side effect of 3)
5.  Difficult without a community college financial commitment to find instructors who can teach specialized classes for working professionals
 
Thus, unlike in the past where you could count on a community college to offer a class that could be helpful to you as a working professional, nowadays the offerings are much more vanilla. Given the huge cost of a single class, professionals have better options that take less time:

1. A one-week class for a given software product or framework
    (Expensive, but focused, and fast. Exactly the content you need.)
2. Harvard, MIT, and others have plenty of FREE online courses
3. A yearly subscription to Lynda.com or similar
    (Huge course offerings.  No instructor support.  Some plans include sample files.)
4. You-Tube Videos
    (Free)
5. Tutorials
6. User groups

So, why spend $500+ for a single community college class, assuming there even was a course that could help you improve your professional skills, when there are plentiful cheaper options that are more focused, have less hassle, and have more user interaction?

Several reasons to opt for the community college approach include the slower and methodical pace, evaluated assignments, and instructor feedback. The college environment is compelling for many students — especially those changing fields. Yet, this option is moot if the classes simply don’t exist for the working professional

Thus, except for being a better deal relative to four-year colleges for “required” courses, community colleges are indeed pricing themselves out of the market for working professionals looking to improve their skills. This market exclusion is from either by not having the financial commitment to hire specialized instructors for those classes or by continually raising prices on the vanilla classes that might help career changers.

Some people are thus now rethinking the value of college, in general, for reasons stated here and for other reasons.

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