Back in the 1960s, when the movement began for a two-year community college for this area, there were two obstacles to high school graduates continuing their educations at a college. One was the cost. The second was a lack of motivation from home for a higher education, which in some cases may have been tied to cost.

Then voters approved the formation of the East Central College District, tax-supported, and the most forward advancement in education in this area in 75 years or more. 

The steering committee for the college sold the issue on two things: The value of higher education and the low cost of attending a community college. Other factors included living at home while attending two years of college, and being able to hold a part-time job while attending college.

Begnning in 1968, it was a bargain to attend ECC. It still is a bargain. The Missourian published a story the past weekend that proves the bargain aspect, especially today.

any of us are out of touch with college costs today.  Frankly, The Missourian story on costs was shocking. We knew costs have gone up at public and private schools of higher learning, and slightly at community colleges, but we didn’t know how much. The story also pointed out that scholarships are available and help tremendously. Without scholarships, many students would not be able to attend college.

We are aware that student loans are available, and many students take advantage of them. However, it’s ridiculous that a college graduate, especially those with graduate degrees, spend a great part of their working years paying off loans.

There is growing concern about higher education costs. When state and federal aid is cut, it usually is made up by tuition hikes. We believe the limit has been reached in higher education costs to students. Many colleges and universities have reduced overhead and more of that must be done. 

nother concern is that the value of a college degree has been dropping in the minds of too many people. College officials have expressed concern about that fact. Does the high cost have something to do with that fact? Certainly. There does seem to be more interest in technical education. That’s fine for some students as long as they get at least a sprinkling of the liberal arts. We’ve drifted away from the concept and the fact that a college degree  signifies a well-rounded education.

Four-year colleges and universities must become more  efficient and lower costs to students. Many of the four-year  institutions recognize that fact. And, they have made life too comfortable for students and that’s been costly. Competition for students has been a factor in giving students more comforts than most had at home. 

Community colleges are lean and affordable, and we need them more today than ever before!