Two-Year Colleges Are Jumping Into the U.S. Research Pool

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Science  16 Sep 2011:
Vol. 333, Issue 6049, pp. 1572-1573
DOI: 10.1126/science.333.6049.1572

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A burgeoning effort seeks to train more scientists by offering research experiences to a huge but previously neglected pool of talent consisting of students who attend so-called community colleges. There are more than 12 million such students—nearly half of all U.S. undergraduates—and each year about 25% transfer to 4-year schools. But these efforts face significant challenges. Up to 18 hours a week giving lectures and running instructional labs is considered a typical course load for community college faculty members. In addition to lacking assistants, professors must send students, who may be gone after 2 years, into the field before they have acquired a solid academic foundation. And community college faculty members can't really compete against larger, better-funded research teams. But their goal is to get students excited about science.

  • * Alison McCook is a freelance writer based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.