Making it through in California

California community colleges turned away 200,000 students last fall, notes the Campaign for College Opportunity, which calls for prioritizing to enable serious students to complete a credential.

In a year when more than 20,000 course sections were cut – including basic skills, transfer-level English and math, career pathway courses, and ESL – the following were still available: Playing the Ukulele for Older Adults; Ceramics: An Option for Friday Night; Latin for Lifelong Learners; Reminiscing; Reclaiming Joy: Meeting Your Inner Child; and Finding Buried Treasure: Organizing Your Clutter.

When students can’t get the courses they need, they may enroll in whatever’s available to keep their financial aid and their registration priority, writes Michele Siqueiros, executive director. That wastes time, money and space in classes.

It takes “perseverance and determination” to complete a degree, say students profiled in Challenged from the Start.

Michelle Ko, a 35 year old pursuing a nursing degree at Glendale Community College, tells about her inability to get the classes she needs in order to graduate and transfer. “There will be classes like my science classes,” she says, “where I’m going to have to beg the teacher on a daily basis to be added. If the professor says ‘I can’t do it,’ I know I’ll be reduced to grovelling.”

Student support services have been slashed, complains Jay Cortez, a 25-year-old student at Los Angeles City College. “It’s just a mess. They are expected to do a 10-person job with only three people.”

It’s going to get even worse. The state’s community colleges will have to cut another $149 million. “Revenues from students’ fees are $107 million below projections for the current fiscal year as more economically strapped students seek and receive fee waivers” and property tax revenues fell short of estimates by about $41 million, reports the Los Angeles Times.