Content Module 3: Globalization and Community Colleges

7 Community Colleges

You are currently enrolled in ELAI 990, a  capstone course in the English Language for Academic Purposes (ELAP) Program offered at Montgomery College. When you signed for the course, did you already know that Montgomery College is a community college? Have you ever thought about what community colleges are?

What is a ‘community college’?

In the early 2010s, I was working on my doctoral dissertation, in which I focused on ESL classrooms in community colleges. In one of the chapters of my doctoral thesis (a ‘book’ comprising seven chapters and about 300-pages long), I wrote the following description of community colleges[1]:

Community colleges are two- or four-year public, independent, or tribal colleges (Community College Fast Facts, 2013) that act as a bridge to four-year universities as well as provide alternatives to university education to the community within which they are located. In the U.S., community colleges were established in the early 20th century “to ensure open access to higher education for individuals of all ages, preparation levels, and incomes” (Eckel & King, 2004, p. iii).

The growth of community colleges was paralleled and fueled by the rise in secondary school enrollments in the beginning of the 20th century (Cohen & Brawer, 2008). Today, almost half of all undergraduate students in the U.S. are enrolled in the more than a thousand community colleges spread across the country (Eckel & King, 2004; Mellow & Heelan, 2008b). Ranging from small rural colleges to large, multi-campus colleges located in urban communities, these colleges provide a wide range of services in response to the changing dynamics of community life in the U.S. including serving a majority of students from racial or ethnic minorities (Mellow & Heelan, 2008b) as well as non-U.S. citizens (Community College Fast Facts, 2013).

Main reference:

Jain, R. (2013). Practitioner-research as dissertation: Exploring the continuities between practice and research in a community college ESL classroom (Doctoral dissertation). Retrieved from: https://drum.lib.umd.edu/handle/1903/14515

List of references cited in the text:

  • American Association of Community Colleges. (2013). Community college fast facts.
  • Cohen, A. M., & Brawer, F. B. (2003). The American community college. John Wiley & Sons.
  • Eckel, P. D., & King, J. E. (2004). An overview of higher education in the United States: Diversity, access and the role of the marketplace. American Council on Education.
  • Mellow, G., & Heelan, C. (2008). Programmatic challenges of diverse demographics. Minding the dream: The process and practice of the American community college, 257-270.

As I noted in my dissertation, community colleges serve students from different racial and ethnic backgrounds. The students who enroll in community college programs, especially the English language programs, may be immigrants or international students. Watch the video of some ESL students and learn more about them. As you watch the video, complete the exercise below.

Video analysis: Listening and Reading Comprehension

  • Analyze the content:
    • Who is in the video? How many participants do you see?
    • What are they talking about?
    • What can you understand about their backgrounds from what they say in the video.
  • Analyse the structure:
    • How is the video structured? Does it have different parts? How do you know?
    • Do you think the video presents the content in a well-structured manner? Are there ways in which the video could be improved?

The Diversity at Montgomery College

Did you know that Montgomery College is one of the most ethnically and racially diverse community colleges in the U.S.? In the state of Maryland, Montgomery College is usually identified as among the most diverse community colleges, according to Community College Review. In fact, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education, Montgomery College was identified as the most diverse community college in Continental U.S. To explore more about the diversity at the College, you can visit Montgomery College at a Glance and look at the data there. 


  1. As you can see in the above excerpt, I made several references to other sources in my text. These are called in-text citations. 

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Demystifying Academic English by Rashi Jain is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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