California Community Colleges represent almost 25 percent of the total population of students in all state’s community colleges. California comes second to Hawaii in offering the cheapest education in the country. An estimated 2.6 million students enroll in Californian community colleges every year. In their service delivery to the community, it has come to light that the majority of students need at least two years to get a degree. Students spend more time than they ought to get a degree and end up paying a lot of money. According to the Student Success Task Force, only 54 percent of enrolled students manage to achieve a certificate or a degree (Thelin 1980). This essay will discuss challenges students face when trying to attain a degree in two years. It will also discuss reasons why students enroll in colleges as well as dilemmas colleges face in their attempt to offer education to millions of students. The main point of this paper is in the following thesis statement: a two-year degree should not take longer than two years or less to complete.
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There are various challenges that students face when trying to obtain a degree in two years. One of the main challenges is getting adequate funds. Some students have to borrow heavily to finance their education. Other students take a break from college for one or two semesters to work to finance their education. Community colleges ought to attract students from diverse communities. Such communities often consist of families who earn income, which is too small to pay tuition fees in colleges. Therefore, a student must attend classes as well as work on the side in order to succeed in his or her education. Luke Latham, a biology teacher at Cypress College, California, gives an account of what happened about 11 months ago, when the state introduced budget cuts to community colleges. Cypress College was one of the most affected in terms of decreased number of students in its biology department. The college lost approximately two fifths of their overall biology sections. The outcome of this loss was that biology students lacked common classes. Consequently, this prevented students from graduating on time since they did not take all compulsory courses. Students suffered even more as services got worse due to deteriorating teacher-student ratio. Assistant professors, who work on a contractual basis were also adversely affected (Cloud 1953).
Not all impediments to obtain two/four year degree on time can be blamed on finances. Some factors are personal or family-related. For instance, a student who wants to do an internship during an academic year has to account for the time lost by postponing graduation dates. It is unfortunate that some students pick out their majors in the middle of their studies in college. This is because these students waste a lot of their valuable time taking irrelevant courses. Such students switch courses due to being undecided and unsettled. This makes it impractical to obtain a degree in two years. At times, students enroll in a community college when they have children or family. Such predicaments require someone to strike a balance between school and family responsibilities. There are also few cases where one could be facing personal issues in their lives. These issues affect the amount of time that a student can dedicate to college work. For instance, a situation where a woman, who losses her husband attends classes, goes to work, and brings up her kids alone would be overwhelmed by the whole situation. This woman can only take up few classes each semester over a number of years to obtain a degree. The degree should have taken her two years to complete.
In addition, some students are slow learners who need remedial classes to catch up with the rest. According to Peter Adams, who is a community college teacher at Baltimore County, most students admitted to college are not ready for it. They require a lot of time and practice compared to the rest of students to grasp a concept. As a result, these students take many non-credit classes in order to be at the same level of learning with other students. Clifford is one such student who together with others forms 50 percent of the student population and 66 percent of black and Latino students, who have to attend catch up classes (Adams 2011). Such students require at least two years to obtain a degree. Courses in basic skills and catch up classes represent an extraordinarily high cost to the student and to the state. Two-fifths of all students, who enroll in basic skill courses end up quitting. Most of those who quit are those who have repeated the same course over and over again until they lose confidence in their ability to excel in such classes. Such students spend too much time and tuition money on these courses and eventually take away nothing out of them. Also, taxpayers pay a price. The country spends approximately $3 billion on basic skills courses each year, according to Stan Jones-Complete College America (Tulenko 2012).
Some of the reasons why students fail to complete a degree in the stipulated time are academic-related. Colleges lack efficiency to take students through a degree. As a result of economic hardships, many students go for classes at community colleges, and this creates a situation that leads to congestion in the classes. Also, such conditions overburden the few teachers who are available. One of the proposed solutions to this problem at Golden West Community College was to hike tuition fees for some courses so as to put a bottleneck to enrollment, as well as raise funds for the college. This led to protests from students leading to the abolishment of the hiked fees (Clark 1995).
Brice Harris, the chancellor of Los Rios Community College District in Sacramento observed that approximately 15000 students miss admission in Sacramento region alone. Statewide estimates show that over 30000 students miss out due to overcrowding, which is now a common pattern in 122 community colleges in California (Harris 2012). Likewise, most colleges do not provide enough information to students before they choose majors. It takes students many years before they graduate due to lack of advising on which subjects to take depending on their interest.
Many students spend a lot of time and money to obtain their degrees. Some students attend 2 or 3 classes each session for a number of years until they attain a degree or a certificate. Such students fulfill their goals in life and maybe earn promotions at work. In the same way, some people have work, family commitments, and attend classes on a part-time, but eventually achieve basic education benefits.
Some students enroll in college for reasons other than basic education benefits. Some students enroll in college, to learn second languages. For example, most students in colleges are adults who want to learn a second language. Some students are there to take life enriching classes like art, music, and other non-credit classes, while other students go for vocational skills such as a business marketing class.
In the quest to fulfill the needs of the society, Californian community colleges have been hard-pressed to offer education to millions of students after high school under tight budgets. This has brought agonizing dilemmas to these colleges. The rising demand for education has led to overstrained resources. This hinders most of the students, who can achieve a certificate or a degree in time while remaining cost-effective. At present, it is almost impossible to attain cost effective college education. This leads to a formation of the Student Success Task Force to look into ways of overturning this trend. The situation in these institutions is appalling since some people are now proposing a change in the mission and purpose of community colleges. State legislators, as well as the Student Success Task Force, are recommending a change of priority. This is to ensure that legislators focus on new students, to enable them to obtain a two-year degree and transfer to a four year degree or get a job (Thelin 1980).
In conclusion, community colleges ought to serve the community by offering job skills, training, courses on languages, vocational certificates, and basic education before transferring to a four-year degree. Thus, community college should take students no longer than two years or fewer to complete.
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