Few Community College Students Earn Degrees
By Haeriet Steinberg
Feb 11, 2007 - 10:00:00 PM

CALIFORNIAA recent report indicated that only one-fourth of students who have entered California community colleges are receiving an associate’s degree or are transferring to a university or a four-year college.

Researchers said their report explains why 76 percent of degree seekers didn’t earn an associate’s degree or transfer to a four-year college.

Some of the reasons stated were: lack of funds that the community colleges are receiving, how they spend their funds, and student fees.

Community colleges receive most of their state funding based on enrollment. Because these colleges get funded according to enrollment, some of the schools allow students to register late, which means they sometimes miss a great deal of class time. This leads to poor performance and can cause many students to drop out. The report stated that although larger enrollment increases funding, but it does not increase academic excellence.

“There is a tremendous amount of pressure to get student enrollment as high as possible,” said Steve Boillard, higher education director for non-partisan Legislative Analyst’s Office in Sacramento, “but very little pressure to make sure they complete or transfer out.”

Another reason for student lack of interest is that there is a policy that requires 75 percent of the faculty to be full-time instructors instead of part-time teachers who could specialize in fields where jobs are needed in the local community.

This report also found that completion rates were higher among students who attended colleges full time, had good attendance, completed an orientation course, and registered on time for most of their courses.

The colleges with the lowest transfer rates are those in low socioeconomic disadvantaged areas.

One researcher stated that this report was not intended to portray California’s community college system as a failure, but to point out how the colleges were playing by the rules set by the state.

The report calls for policymakers and community college officials to work together, making specific suggestions on the financial and instructional policies.

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