The New York Times looks at the rise in local two-year college program enrollment. It’s up 30 percent at Hostos Community College in the Bronx, and Queensborough Community College got 200 applications in two months. Even LaGuardia’s adult educational course in taxi driving saw an uptick (The school also offers a course in “How to Economize in Difficult Times.”)
Jobs are clearly the driver. The big gainers are courses in nursing, in which there is currently a shortage of trained practitioners, radiological technology and dental hygiene.
One admissions director mentions the collapse of Circuit City (which just went bankrupt) as a factor; one student “had always been a housewife but did not feel secure now without some type of job training.”
Though the financial crisis is new, job insecurity has long been with us and, in utilitarian America, drives higher education trends. In our increasingly white-collar culture, a (increasingly expensive and debt-inducing) college degree is still a ticket to the archetypical Good Job. More people are going after this hot ticket, and conservatives have taken to saying that too many people are getting it. Maybe they’ll be comforted to know that, now that the bottom has fallen out of the market, college is really turning into vocational school.