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Design can help community colleges

The article offers ideas and examples from Howard, Tidewater and Ohlone Community Colleges along with Los Angeles Valley College that other institutions can look to as they work to create community spaces that are absolutely connected to student success. The full FastCo piece can be read online here: How Design Can Help Community Colleges Promote Community. 

Below are two key excerpts from the piece

On the Funding Challenge

In many ways, this funding challenge may stem from a common misconception that students who attend community colleges don’t need these spaces. That’s simply not true. With many community college students balancing full-time jobs (62% of full-time and 73% of part-time community college students also work full or part time) and raising children or caring for loved ones, these students are often challenged to find time to study and meet off campus. further re-enforcing the need for more student life spaces.

While state funding models should evolve to support this need, the design community is one group that can do more to work with community colleges to creatively rejuvenate their campus. Even in the face of funding challenges and historic precedent, there are emerging examples of how partnership between two-year academic institutions and designers can further elevate community on campus.

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On Success at Tidewater Community College

Tidewater Community College (TCC), one of the largest community colleges in the nation, opened its Norfolk Student Centre located within Norfolk, VA’s commercial and historic district. The center offers indoor and outdoor gathering areas (seating walls, steps and outdoor dining tables) for students to study, present and meet. The center is a home for the college’s student organizations and a forum for different programs and events. Moreover, the center boasts lounge, study, fitness, dining and childcare areas for students.

With more than 12 million students enrolled nationwide, community colleges are integral to higher education in America. Leaders at these institutions recognize they need to find new ways to introduce student life and collaboration opportunities on campus. They’re trying to move forward, but need further support. It’s time to push for policy change and funding reform. It’s time to further democratize education. It’s time for the design community to help level the playing field between two-and four-year institutions in order to provide exceptional educational experiences to all our future leaders.

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