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Junior colleges provide more bang for the buck

A recent article in the Montgomery Advertiser pointed to the educational bargain derived from two-year colleges throughout the State of Alabama.

In a state where full tuition for a four-year run at a major university - such as Auburn, Alabama or Troy - is reaching unprecedented costs, two-year community colleges has become a viable option for those students and parents seeking a quality education without breaking the bank.

The state's two-year colleges have not increased tuition in the last two semesters and there is no planned increase this year. Roy Johnson, chancellor of the Alabama College System, said the goal of the Legislature is to keep tuition at "50 to 60 percent of what it is at the four-year colleges."

Meanwhile, public four-year colleges are increasing tuition at the rate of four percent this fall.

Crenshaw County recently received good news as far as continuing education for graduating seniors and adults go. Lurleen B. Wallace Community College has announced plans to build a satellite campus in Luverne, adding additional wings to and renovating the old National Guard armory located near Luverne High School. LBW also has satellite campuses in Greenville and Opp and currently rents a building behind the Luverne Post Office that is being used for the FIT (Focused Industrial Training) classes. According to Laura Elliot, named part-time director of the Luverne campus, LBW will also start renovating the current FIT building in order to begin offering college credit courses within a classroom atmosphere. The main satellite facility in Luverne is still two years away from completion.

The public two-year system includes 21 community colleges, of which LBW, located centrally in Andalusia, is a part. LBW offers more than 20 career programs and a variety of courses for academic transfer to a four-year institution. Students can easily garner two-years of valuable education from LBW - or one of the various other community colleges throughout the state - and then attend the four-year college of their choice to conclude their degree requirements.

Junior colleges play a significant role in Alabama education. For graduating seniors, junior colleges offer an excellent venue to decide if college is the right choice. They also familiarize those students that would quickly find themselves lost at a major university to a college atmosphere. Classroom settings are intimate and instructors are readily approachable for questions and answers. Some students just aren't ready for the required responsibility and initiative necessary for attending a four-year university as a freshman. Also adults, entering college for the first time after years away from school, find that community colleges provide flexible hours and scheduling.

Which makes, in our eyes, community colleges the backbone of Alabama's post-high school education system.