T Nation

Obama's Free Community College Plan


President Obama will propose two years of free community college for American workers Friday, part of what the White House says is an effort to make community college as universal as high school is today.

"Put simply, what I'd like to do is to see the first two years of community college free for anybody who's willing to work for it," he said aboard Air Force One amid a three-state tour to preview his State of the Union Address. "It's something we can accomplish, and it;s something that will train our workforce so that we can compete with anyone in the world."

Thoughts ?


How about for joining the military? Oh wait...


Excellent.. as long as we don't wind up a plethora of 2-year Liberal Arts graduates out on the street. Some community colleges have great technology programs, something we really need people steered into.


Shit, I donno man there are pros and cons either way. It's relatively cheap (went to a community college for a year), people can learn a trade or at least get started, it could communities that use to or still do rely on blue collar work that has dried up in recent decades, etc... On the flip side where the hell is this $70B gonna come from? Where does this lead us? A "free" undergraduate degree 15-20 years down the road? In a generation or two you'll need a Ph.D. to be competitive, undergrad degrees are already a dime a dozen.


Obama said it's free, no one is actually "paying" for it.


I do not think that word means what he thinks it means.


I'm pretty sure most post-secondary education is subsidized. If that is the case, then people should have to compete for seats in fields where there is expected growth. I know this might lead to delays in qualified people being available, but to me, it's better than graduating a bunch of shitheads without any useful skills.


Things like this just make college the new high school and grad work the new undergrad. It makes not going to college into not going to high school.


If its going to be free you should have to have some type of life plan attached to it, as in you are going to learn a trade or you are going to get two years of pre-req work in before transferring to a senior college. Unless its a trade degree, a two year degree means jack shit over a high school diploma, maybe that you could pass some slightly harder course work. Without making them take something useful the government is basically funding two years of partying.


Three thoughts

One, that a dumbed-down associate's degree from a taxpayer-subsidised community college probably isn't going to make the recipients of the dumbed-down high school diploma any more ready to start attending the dumbed-down freshman year at their overpriced, grade-inflated university, or any more ready to enter the dumbed-down workforce. Just as taxpayer-subsidised public schools do not, generally speaking, attract the best teachers, I can't imagine that a taxpayer-funded community college would be featuring the cream of the professorial crop.

Two, that in this life, you not only get what you pay for, you also VALUE what you pay for. Conversely, you don't value what you don't pay for. The state of subsidised housing projects should give us some idea of this.

Finally three, that if the President wants to throw a few trillion dollars at a program which will do nothing more than raise the general level of American mediocrity a few degrees, why not use it to give scholarships to the really exceptional students who might not be able to attend first-class universities?


High school is already free and it doesn't seem to do anyone any good.

Who does free college really benefit? The people actually capable of going on to higher ed who will end up with higher paying jobs who will be able to pay for it in the long run.

In other words, this is a tax on the uneducated, common man to benefit the intellectual class.

Clap, clap, Mr. Prez! "Hope and Change."


In fairness, a lot of people in the United States throw the word "free" around without really understanding what it means.


This might actually be a good idea were it not to be administered by a political bureaucracy. Maybe just divide the money up and give it to private charities who are more suited to do this.


FFS, just pour the money into high schools and give people experience into trade-skills there. Instead of having people learn a bunch of random stuff, focus on two core skills- math and English. The rest are electives. Allow kids to learn whatever they want to learn. With Wikipedia and the internet being such powerful tools these days, there is no need to force children to learn basic sciences at school. They can learn it on their own if they chose to.

Seriously, you can learn biology better off wikipedia than in a school class these days.

Anyways, I think this will just turn 2- year colleges into the same thing most average U.S. high schools are today.


Give this man a diploma!


Good topic which I have mixed feelings about. I always favored loans and work-study. It took me 12 years to pay off my student loans. I also did work-study, had a small scholarship and a state grant. I just think you have to have some skin in the game. It makes you appreciate it more.

And the education/training should be limited to needed occupations and skills. No philosophy or women's studies degrees. Also, citizenship/civics, personal finance should be required courses. And I know you are going to laugh, but "family life" too!

We could slash/rework the dept of education to get the funds easy.


Yep. It would be much more beneficial if the curriculum in the first two years of community college was integrated into the last two years of high school instead. Not by the federal government though.


That's an easy one. This country cares far more about bringing the bottom up a notch or two than helping the exceptional excel.


Cant let people get to far apart. It makes "spreading the wealth" seem more ridiculous than it already is. Plus, the bottom casts predictable votes.


Why do the exceptional need help to excel?