Today, many students across the country are opting to attend two-year community colleges to earn an associate's degree, as doing so can be far more cost-effective than enrolling in a four-year university. However, many individuals in California did not have this option this fall, as deep budget cuts have forced the state to put thousands of prospective students on wait lists.
Survey Reveals Majors Issues in State Community Colleges
More than 470,000 community college students throughout the state were put on wait lists for the fall semester, according to a survey by the chancellor's office. Among the 78 colleges that responded to the survey, almost 80% said their students may face wait lists for the fall semester, while 78% said all of their classes were expected to be full.
These grim circumstances in the nation's largest community college system are largely due to budget cuts. Since 2008, the California colleges have faced $809 million in state funding reductions, the Los Angeles Times reports. Additionally, they could suffer another $338 million in cuts in the middle of this year if state voters reject a tax measure supported by Governor Jerry Brown.
"There is no question that the system is shrinking in terms of the number of students we're serving but not shrinking in terms of demand," California Community Colleges Chancellor Jack Scott told the Times. "The real problem is we don't have the financial resources to offer the courses that we could fill. In the long run, it's going to be hurtful to the economy. These are the individuals who are going to make up the future workforce of California."
New Bill Strives to Help Students Succeed
To combat the devastating effects of budget cuts, the state legislature recently approved a bill that is designed to help college students succeed, The Chronicle of Higher Education reports. The Student Success Act of 2012 would improve the two-year college system by ensuring students have the resources they need to persevere through graduation, including counseling services, orientations and academic assessments. Additionally, the bill would require all students to create an educational goal at the beginning of their college journey.
"The legislature clearly recognized that this bill’s important policy changes will put more students on the path to completing their educational goals and will make California more competitive economically," Scott told the Times.
So far the legislation has been passed by the Senate, following an approval from the Assembly. Now, it will await the governor's approval.