2021 Community College Month Op-Eds

About Op-Eds, Call to Action, Sample Articles

March 12, 2021

The term “op-ed” is short for “opposite the editorial page.” It’s a form of writing published by newspapers, magazines and some websites that express an opinion and (most often) make an argument in favor of or against something.

Why publish an op-ed?

Op-eds can be great publicity, or “earned promotion” (as opposed to purchased advertising), and when run in publications of influence, well-written op-eds can make a great impact on how readers view the topic that is discussed. Readers of nationally renowned publications vary widely and include very influential and powerful individuals. But don’t discount local/community and state-based publications! These are read by elected officials and community stakeholders, and your argument can change the way people see things. A published op-ed is also a great achievement for anyone. Your college may have relationships with members of the news media. If you are interested in writing and publishing an op-ed, ask your college’s communications department how they can help.

Note: Your op-ed doesn’t have to be “about” Community College Month itself. Make the best possible argument for your college based on outcomes, student, faculty and other experiences, economic returns, etc.

A few basic op-ed writing guidelines

Every publication has its own guidelines. Be sure to read them before pitching an op-ed. That said, some basic guidelines generally apply:

  • Your writing must be strong, clear, and concise. (Use short, simple sentences.)
  • The topic must be relevant, timely and newsworthy.
  • Learn the demographic profile of readers of the publication you plan to pitch, and write with that demographic in mind.
  • 750 words is the absolute maximum in most cases (shorter for some publications). Editors will not consider work that is longer than this. You must put in the work of editing before submitting.
  • Sources must be identified and tagged within the op-ed (e.g., “_____, according to the Pew Research Center.”); no footnotes or hyperlinks to external sources that must be read to understand your argument.
  • Make your best argument, not all possible arguments.
  • Give a reasonable and convincing counter-argument to questions that your argument raises.
  • End with a call to action.
  • Do not pitch an op-ed if you have a financial or ethical conflict of interest.

Sample Op-Eds in Support of Community Colleges:

What community colleges can teach higher ed about supporting students during and beyond the pandemic (opinion)
by Xueli Wang, November 18, 2020 
Inside Higher Ed 
 

A Call to Action, From One Trustee to All Trustees: Trustee Rosalena O'Neil Challenges You to Champion the Value of Community Colleges Loudly and Proudly
by Rosalena O'Neil, February 2021
Trustee Quarterly 

 

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