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Higher education and the economy

The global economic downturn will impact nearly every facet of our lives. Some people are certainly affected more than others, but we can all see the consequences on our nation, state, community and in our individual lives. As a result, we look for bright spots and opportunities in this morass to answer our concerns.

One of the bright spots is attending a higher education institution close to home. Students returning for the holidays are discussing how they can continue affording education away from home and high school students are looking ahead to those final months and are assessing their movement into higher education. One answer is in attending a local "community college" where the cost of attendance is far less. Clinton Community College is one of those institutions where the educational experience is more than expected.

Many choose to take advantage of the opportunity to attend community college during recessionary periods for a host of reasons. Certainly, cost is a factor. The cost of attendance is often 1/3 to 1/2 of a four-year institution. Staying close to home for two years before transferring to the four-year campus is another. Building self-esteem and confidence, learning how higher education differs from high school, creating a foundation for further education or satisfying a career goal in a close-knit environment are others. Class size is smaller, more intimate and caring. Transfer is easy to most four-year colleges and universities. For example, Plattsburgh State attracts nearly 80 percent of the transfers from Clinton Community College.

There is residence hall living for those who seek it. And, the support and attention one needs to be successful is available and ready for the asking. On-line classes are regularly scheduled for those unable to attend during typical class times. As an economic engine producing wealth for its local economy, Clinton Community College serves to educate local residents for higher paying workforce opportunities.

The economic crisis will cause changes in higher educational institutions. One change that is often mentioned is the increase of tuition in January for the spring semester. That will not be the case at Clinton Community College. As you think about next steps in or toward higher education, think locally where the opportunities for a bright future abound.

Frederick W. Woodward is the interim president of Clinton Community College.

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