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California still encouraging college degrees despite tuition hikes

California colleges have had a controversial few weeks. Believe it or not, the controversy extends beyond protests and tuition hikes.

In the shadows of more eye-catching headlines, the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office and The California State University Office of The Chancellor recently announced that their “Degree with a Guarantee” program has doubled the students who earned an associate degree last year.

The joint college systems announced that 6,905 of the 11,673 students who earned an associate’s degree went on to transfer to a CSU campus.   Community college students who participate in the program and earn an Associate in Arts for Transfer or an Associate in Science for Transfer are guaranteed admission to a California State University, but not necessarily the campus of their choice

Some students are concerned about an easy transfer from community colleges to the CSU system.

Rachelle Enya, a 2014 graduate from the Biochemistry program at CSU Sacramento, stated, “Offering a guaranteed slot is a bad idea since there is literally not enough room to accommodate.” Enya explained that the current higher education system is impacted and not equipped to accommodate the state’s population. She states that there is a huge disconnect of expectations between the high school, community college, and four year university levels.

While concerns like Enya’s are shared among the CSU student community, the effects of the program may benefit students like CSU Sacramento student Kia Seehafer, who is struggling to complete her major because of the overwhelming student population. Seehafer, accepted directly to CSU Sacramento without transferring, originally set out to major in Biology. However, because introductory classes were (and still are) so impacted, it took her four semesters to successfully add a class that was a prerequisite for all of her major’s core classes.

“I couldn’t make any progress in biology, so in order to at least be getting something done, I picked up philosophy”, said Seehafer. A second degree was her solution to maintaining her enrollment, which is at a tremendous financial cost.

Time will tell is this program has been successful. In 2013, the first year of the program, CSU Sacramento had a retention rate of 85 percent, down one percent from 2011 and 2012 at 86 percent.

Categories: Budget and Finance, Education, Must Read, News, Policy, Uncategorized
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