Community colleges serve a great purpose in our country by offering affordable options for students to being their higher education and equip them for jobs that don’t necessarily require a four-year degree. Many community colleges have taken great strides to get closer to students by offering evening courses at local schools and have online course offerings. Budgets are stretched very thin for community colleges and local school districts and this challenge offers a very interesting opportunity.
We see the ebb and flow of corporate real estate decisions based on having a remote workforce or trying to consolidate the workforce into a few locations. The costs are significant. Community colleges can change the game by adopting these same strategies.
So, the recommendation? Stop remodeling buildings and expanding your physical footprint.
More often, community colleges are working to offer college courses to high school students so that they can earn college credit while still in high school and in some cases even graduate with an associates degree at the same time as attaining their high school diplomas. Along with the previously mentioned strategies to offer night courses at local schools, by expanding the initiative to co-locate inside of local schools, community colleges can save on their own real estate costs and provide more revenue to local school districts. This could also offer greater collaboration between the local school districts and the community colleges. Instead of offering a limited menu of college courses, local school districts could request that the community colleges develop specific courses that would serve the high school students better and give new offerings to adult learners.
Sure, not all real estate needs could be met by local school districts, but there are other government funded entities that could adopt a similar model. Health care education has some unique challenges like requirements for specific labs and clinical courses for students. Community colleges could co-locate these courses right inside of local county hospitals and offer the same benefits they offer to local school districts. While providing some relief to county hospitals in terms of labor from the students in return for hands on learning, the local county hospitals could gain some revenue from modest rental fees to the community colleges while saving money for them at the same time.
This does not have any real limitation, either, just having some creativity to overcome the challenges. Community colleges offer trade education that normally has some hands on learning components, as well. This practice could play a role in bringing back some of the apprenticeship and journeyman model to trades.