Community colleges play a major role in helping students achieve success in higher education. In fact, according to the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC), 46 percent of all undergraduates in the U.S. are enrolled in community colleges. Plus, 41 percent of first-time freshman attend community colleges.
Community colleges also serve a very diverse population. But what does that diversity look like? And why does it matter? To find out, let's start by looking at some statistics.
Research from the College Board, a non-profit connecting students to college success and opportunity, found of all undergraduates enrolled at public two-year colleges:
Data from AACC on first-time students at community college indicates they are largely minorities:
The College Board report found that community colleges are home to a higher percentage of "non-traditional" students:
AACC provides data showing that 30 percent of community college students come from families who migrated to the U.S. Specifically:
Many community college students are juggling school with parenthood, according to AACC:
AACC also reports that 12 percent of students at community colleges indicate they have a disability.
As you can see, community colleges serve an extremely diverse student population. And diverse groups of people have different needs and expectations.
To do the best job at educating your students, it's important to understand how diversity can benefit your college and how you can help students achieve success.
For example, just like in business, diversity offers many different viewpoints. This can be helpful in a classroom setting. But at the same time, if students don't understand how to respect each other's comments, it can turn into a heated discussion that's ultimately unproductive or hurtful.
Helping students communicate with respect and understand each other's backgrounds can facilitate a healthier learning environment. And it will prepare them for life after college where they will be expected to work with people from all over the world.
Additionally, faculty and staff need to be prepared to help students with varying needs, such as pregnant and parenting students or students who have disabilities.
Four-year colleges and universities aren't the only schools that need robust diversity programs. In fact, it could be argued that community colleges have an even greater need to focus on diversity and inclusion on campus.