Poll shows that majority of Americans support community colleges, consider them a smart option for many students

 
The Associated Press
 
The vast majority of Americans feel it is better for some students to go to community college instead of a four-year school, according to a new poll by The Associated Press and Stanford University released Tuesday.

Respondents rated community colleges as excellent or good at nearly the same rate as four-year schools, showing Americans are generally pleased with two-year colleges. Seventy-one percent said it's sometimes better for students to pursue a diploma or certificate from a two-year school than aim to enter a four-year college.

"That's an important breakthrough," said Stanford researcher Michael Kirst. "But the results ought to be somewhat troubling to people who want to reform community colleges. If the public does not think there's a major problem with an institution, it's often difficult to mobilize the political will to change it."

The results come as President Obama and education leaders from across the country gather in Washington, D.C., this week for a summit on community colleges, hoping to bring more attention to the often stigmatized schools. Obama wants the United States to have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world by 2020.
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