History of Community College

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History of Community College

In 1892 the University of Chicago first separated the University into two levels, the Academic College and the University College. In 1896 these names were changed to Junior College and Senior College. Joliet Junior College in Illinois is recognized as being the first public community college.

It began as an extension of the high school in 1901 with six students. Following Joliet’s lead, additional colleges were established as extensions of the high schools throughout the nation. The local high school district governing board maintained control over these colleges. there was 207 junior. Colleges in 1922, and by 1939 there were 575 junior colleges. In 1947, under the Commission on Higher Education, the role of the junior college system was expanded.

This expansion occurred during the post-war period when veterans began receiving funds through the G.l. Bill to continue their education. The community college was expanded to offer two-year degrees in vocational areas in addition to the traditional liberal arts education needed for transferring to a four-year institution. The commission also recommended that the name be changed from junior college to community college to reflect the expanded mission of the institution.

The community college system continued to grow in numbers. “The President’s Commission on National Goals recommended in 1960-that two-year colleges be placed within commuting distance of all high school graduates (areas of the sparse population being exempted)”. At the end of the 1980s, enrollment at the community college level was at 4,776,000. By 1990 there were more than 1,000 community colleges across the nation. Based on the number of institutions and the enrollment levels, community colleges are a vital part of the higher education system within the United States.

The development of the community college system within the State of Arizona followed a path similar to what has happened at the national level. The first junior college in Arizona was Eastern Arizona College which began as a high school academy in 1890. Phoenix College was established in 1920 as part of the Phoenix Union High School District. State legislation authorizing high school districts to form a junior college was passed in 1927.

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