During the 1980s, April was designated “Community College Month,” as a way to provide awareness to the critical role community colleges play in our country’s higher educational system. The nation’s nearly 1,200 community colleges are considered by higher education scholars to be one of America’s greatest educational successes of the latter half of the 20th century. According to the American Association of Community Colleges, community colleges enroll 12 million students annually – representing 41 percent of all U.S. undergraduates – providing an affordable option for students from all walks of life.
For more than five decades, Lorain County Community College has been empowering the community by playing a vital role in preparing residents and local employers for the future. As an institution that was chartered in 1963 after an initiative led by the league of women voters, LCCC became the first community college in Ohio to establish a permanent campus. Remaining committed to the fact that “community” is literally its middle name, LCCC has fostered robust community partnerships in an effort to design academic programs and training options that align with employer needs – while simultaneously providing support services designed to meet students where they are and prepare them for success.
Locally, Lorain County Community College’s impact is clear. As the county’s only public higher education option, LCCC fulfills a vital community need for residents. Since 1963, more than 200,000 people have taken classes at LCCC and more than 36,000 have gone on to earn a degree.
“Lorain County Community College has been, and continues to be, a foundation of this community,” said LCCC President Marcia J. Ballinger, Ph.D. “We are here to help people prepare for the next step in their lives.” That includes serving those who are the first in their families to go to college, high school students looking to jumpstart their college education, those preparing for second or third careers, employers who need a talented workforce or senior citizens enjoying lifetime learning opportunities.
Lorain County Community College’s approach of meeting students where they are has enabled the institution to identify the barriers many students face when pursuing a higher education degree and then design programs and systems to help students achieve their goals and graduate to a better future.
According to a recent report on three-year success measures (factoring rates of graduation, transfer and persistence) from the Ohio Department of Higher Education, LCCC continues to lead the state with a success rate of 60 percent compared to the state average of 51 percent.
“While we are proud of our 61 percent student success rate, we know there is still work to be done and we are laser-focused on not only graduating our students, but ensuring they are embarking on educational pathways that will lead to a successful, high-paying job. We know that by 2025, 65 percent of jobs will require a post-secondary credential,” Ballinger said. “Our mission as the community’s college is to ensure students are prepared to compete and thrive in this ever-changing economy; we must invest in keeping our educational programs, support services and technology up-to-date and relevant to job market changes.”
And community colleges like LCCC are better positioned to address the unmet talent needs of business and industry because they can evolve quickly to meet their changing needs, evidenced by LCCC’s recent authorization from the Ohio Department of Higher Education to offer Ohio’s first Applied Bachelor of Science in Microelectronic Manufacturing, pending approval by the Higher Learning Commission. LCCC was one of only three community colleges in the state and the only one in Northeast Ohio to get this approval. “Students are excited because they will earn a bachelor’s degree for less than $15,000 while simultaneously completing a paid internship that averages $18,000. These students will be financially ahead even before they land their first job,” Ballinger said.
Affordability, access, and adaptability remain the hallmarks of Lorain County Community College. “These virtues were the foundation of LCCC when we opened our doors the community in 1963. And as we look to the future, we are committed to providing Lorain County with a solid return on their investment in their community’s college,” Ballinger said.
Throughout the month of April, Lorain County Community College is celebrating National Community College Month via social media and would love to hear from you. Follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and share how LCCC has impacted your life with the hashtags #CommunityCollegeMonth and #TeamLCCC.