"Community" Does not Mean Small
In 2009, the Chronicle of Higher Education listed Miami-Dade College (MDC), as the largest community college in the United States. MDC boasts enrollment of more than 170,000 students at eight campuses globally.
The Houston and Austin Community Colleges in Texas also historically have high enrollment numbers. In the National Center for Educational Statistics report from the U.S. Department of Education, the 2004 "Digest of Education Statistics" ranks them in the top of the 120 largest degree-granting college and university campuses. Northern Virginia Community College, the very community college institution at which Dr. Jill Biden currently teaches, also has a large student body. A state known for multiple large community college systems is California. More recently, the state of North Carolina has gained ground, now standing at the third largest in community college system size across all fifty states.
These trends follow geographic distributions noted by Alice C. Andrews and James W. Fonseca in their 1998 report, Community Colleges in the United States: A Geographic Perspective. Andrews and Fonseca (1998) noted, "Numbers vary greatly by state, with 107 in California and only one each in Alaska, Rhode Island, South Dakota and Vermont. Other states with large numbers of community colleges, in addition to California, are Texas (67), North Carolina (58), Georgia (54), Minnesota (51), Illinois (49) and New York (47)."
At the same time, one must take into consideration that many of these states are currently experiencing high unemployment rates, decreasing house values, high immigrant and minority populations, and/or an influx in population. All these factors affect higher education statistics.