Community colleges have long held second-class-citizen status in the world of higher education. But they've suddenly become top tier when it comes to one important thing: training for new green-economy jobs.
In recent months, administrators at two-year schools across the country have been adding certification programs for everything from wind technicians to solar cell designers to energy auditors, positioning themselves at the forefront of a rapidly changing job market and spurring unprecedented spikes in enrollment.
In part the increase in demand at junior colleges is due to the recession: Many students can no longer afford pricey four-year colleges and are opting to attend two-year programs instead.
And the schools are about to receive a surge of funding thanks to the Obama administration, which has placed the country's 1,200 two-year institutions at the heart of its recovery strategy, allocating $12 billion over the next decade to help modernize the system.