California’s community college crawl

Time is the enemy of college completion, warns Complete College America. The longer the path to a degree, the less likely students are to make it. In California, thousands of community college students are taking one class per semester and many more are taking fewer classes than they want, reports the Los Angeles Times.

The first course Charity Hansen is taking as a freshman at Pasadena City College is a basic class on managing time, speaking up in discussions, setting ambitious goals and then going after them.

If only she could.

It’s the only class she managed to get this semester. No math. No English. No science.

Nearly 4,000 degree-seeking students at the college are taking a single class this fall after the college cut 10 percent of classes to save money.

“The students who are here, we’re desperately telling them ‘Don’t drop out, don’t give up hope. We’ll get you through,'”said Mark Rocha, the college president.

The problem is statewide.

Since 2007, money from the state’s general fund, which provides the bulk of the system’s revenue, has decreased by more than a third, dropping from a peak of nearly $3.9 billion to about $2.6 billion last year.

Without enough money, course offerings have dropped by almost a quarter since 2008. In a survey, 78 of the system’s 112 colleges reported more than 472,300 students were on waiting lists for classes this fall semester — an average of about 7,150 per campus.

Cinthia Garcia went straight from high school to El Camino College — six years ago. Unable to get the classes she needed for her graphic design major, she moved to Los Angeles and enrolled at Pasadena City College. Advanced art classes there were full, but she managed to get one web design class, replacing a student who’d dropped out.

Garcia once planned to transfer to earn a four-year degree, but now she sees even a two-year degree as out of reach. She hopes to get enough classes to earn a certificate.

POSTED BY Joanne Jacobs ON October 11, 2012

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Chari Leader Kelley

It seems to me that these students might be good candidates for MOOCs and other free online learning resources. If these students are able to access the content (for free) and complete these courses, they can continue learning and progressing. At the same time, they are likely to be working. The learning attained on the job — if it is significant in depth and breadth — may be at the college-level. Combining the learning from work and from MOOCs, these students could do learning portfolios, demonstrate the learning outcomes from the equivalent courses are met, and earn college credits. This could help them maintain momentum, cut costs, and increase their chances of degree completion.
The service is at offered through CAEL (Council on Adult & Experiential Learning) in collaboration with ACE (American Council on Education) and the College Board.

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