Editorial: Students, ready yourself for success in community college

When California community colleges first opened their doors in 1967, their mission was to “admit any California resident with a high school diploma or the equivalent and may admit anyone who is capable of profiting from the instruction offered,” according to the California Community College Chancellor’s Office website.

Yet in a time of continued budget cuts and increasing tuition costs, California community colleges are beginning to ration their offerings to selected groups of students.

As semesters go by, more sections are being cut across community colleges, making it difficult for students to obtain a college education. Anyone who may benefit from the system is now being shunned out either by budget cuts or through the Student Success Task Force.

In an effort to make community colleges seem more efficient, the Student Success Tast Force arbitrarily defined success as the amount of students earning degrees and certificates or transferring to a four-year university. The recommendations, which were passed by the Board of Governors in January, also include plans for requiring students to declare a major by their third semester.

But doesn’t this go against the basic principle of community colleges?

They’re supposed to benefit anyone who can profit from the education—and who couldn’t benefit? Anyone who wishes to take a class does so to better themselves in some way.

The Task Force is working to help students, yet some of the policies suck. However, these policies are being enacted, so students have to ready themselves to get through college.

Students need to have to have plans in place, which is essentially what the Task Force wants. The thing is, community colleges are misleading in one way. Students are considered “full time” students when they take 12 units a semester. A student taking a 12-unit load for two years in the spring and fall will not finish school on time; simple math will show that four 12-unit semesters will only add up to 48 out of the minimum of 60 units needed for degrees or transfer.

Honestly, students don’t like the idea of summer school, and less classes are being offered to students over the summer. Some students may be able to finish by taking 12 units in the spring and fall and 6 units over both summers, but most students will end up crowding their schedules in the spring and fall.

Another problem is that students can’t always get certain classes; some classes are offered on a rotating schedule and are only offered so often. There are only so many professors to teach a wide-range of particular classes.

Students really need to find out how often classes are offered or they’ll run the risk of being stuck. Previously, students have been able to take as many classes as they’ve wanted, but going forward, they will have to be careful.

The Task Force recommendations include plans to place a limit where students will lose priority registration once they get to 100 units. Students need to be aware of these limitations and plan accordingly if they wish to finish on time.

With so many students trying to get classes, students need to re-evaluate their goals and be sure they are on the right track.

The fact is, some students may not even need college. The Connection staff attended the Journalism Association of Community Colleges 2012 State Conference at the end of March. Various professions told us, as journalism students, to not major in journalism or that we do not need college.

With opinions such as those in the professional world, students need to really look into what they are trying to get out of college and make sure the two paths line up.

With so many new limitations, guidelines and course reductions, students need to stay aware of the changing climate so that they don’t end up in community college with no way out.