Community colleges play a critical role in providing affordable and accessible education to students right in their own backyards. Nearly half of all college students are enrolled at a community college, in part because they provide educational opportunities some students would otherwise not be able to access. In addition, these community-focused institutions are essential in workforce development, local economic development, and vocational training.

Community colleges offer experienced faculty members, diverse subject matter, flexible schedules, and small class sizes to ensure students receive a high-quality, affordable education without having to leave their local community.

Overall, students at community colleges are often older; with the majority enrolled on a part-time basis, in part because they are more likely to also be working. More than 40 percent of community college students work full-time, compared to about 22 percent of their four-year college counterparts. And more students in community colleges are first-generation college students.

Our own community college — Irvine Valley College — successfully combines a small-college environment with more than 60 acres of modern facilities and equipment; dedicated staff; and an excellent faculty.

More than 16,000 students from across Irvine and the surrounding communities sign up for classes at Irvine Valley College (IVC) each year. 37% of the students are enrolled full-time. The annual tuition at IVC is approximately $1,100, far less than that at a four-year college.

IVC offers two-year associate degrees in over 70 majors in the liberal arts and sciences, business sciences, social sciences, and technologies. Students can complete general education and pre-major requirements for transfer to four-year colleges. They can also train for a specific job by earning a certificate in one of IVC’s 60 career and technical programs. In addition, IVC offers courses to the community for your own personal development.

IVC continues to lead among all Orange County community colleges when it comes to transfer rates to UCI and UCLA. Not only is the transfer rate high, students who transfer to the Cal State University and UC system do very well. IVC has partnered with UCI to provide a clear path for students who want to get into UCI’s science and engineering programs. The UCI-IVC Engineering Academy allows students who successfully complete the program and meet academic standards guaranteed admission into UCI’s Samueli School of Engineering.

There are also a multitude of theatrical, dance, and music performances at the college’s beautiful, state-of-the-art Performing Arts Center that is open to the entire Irvine community.

As one of the elected South Orange County Community College District Trustees, I couldn’t be more proud to live in a city that is home to such a wonderful community college. IVC truly is the best kept secret in Irvine!