The community college has played a vital part in the overall system of public education for the United States for some time, providing students with a low-cost entry to college, with an alternative for some students, with a vocational program for those needing that type of training, and so on. The system has traditionally been an important part of the community, working with high schools and universities alike to provide added opportunity for the disadvantaged and those requiring additional classroom learning before going on to a four-year college or university. More recently, though, community colleges have been faced with many of the same financial pressures affecting other institutions of higher learning, and this along with increased enrollment has created a number of problems with which community college administrators must cope for the future.
Cohen and Brawer (1987) see the factors shaping the community college "as a link between the lower schools and establishments of higher learning" (Cohen and Brawer, 1987, xi). As such, the community college stands as a significant element in the American educational system, and representatives and leaders of the community college must be sensitive to the educational realities of those "lower schools" and the educational needs of those "establishments of higher learning" at one and the same time. Cohen and Brawer (1987) are generally optimistic about the ability of the community college to fulfill its collegiate function:
We are encouraged by the way the collegiate connection has been maintained, but we think it should be strengthened. The liberal arts and practices that promote transfer can be at the heart of a college even while it remains open to all (Cohen and Brawer, 1987, xiv).
However, the community college faces a number of challenges that will test the structure under which they operate today, with the primary challenges stemming from a more restrictive budgetary en...