As the economy struggles, consider community college | Opinion

Rather than giving up, most [students] persevered through a disrupted spring semester. In fact, many have taken the next step and signed up for summer classes — also all being offered online and via a remote format. They know what they want, whether it is a certificate, a professional development course, a two-year degree, or credits that can be transferred to another institution. They know that waiting to pursue what they want can lead to more debt and delayed earnings, and they will not be deterred — even by a pandemic...The lesson to be learned from community college students is to not let a year go by without making educational progress. Preparing for the post-pandemic future should be a top priority. During this period of personal uncertainty — related to home life and finances as well as those like on-campus living arrangements and tuition costs — the best decision is the one that offers the greatest stability and certainty about the immediate future. Researchers have shown that the first year of a college career is the most important. Decisions about college should be made with the confidence that there will be no disruptions or distractions due to the virus, or anxieties stemming from the continued impact of COVID-19. Community colleges offer students that stability while mitigating their very real concerns about educational debt because we already know they have enough challenges before them. Start now.