California community colleges feeling the pinch

DollarsThe California Community Colleges System is the single largest college level education system in the world. With 112 campuses and almost 2.5 million students, there is no other institution like it. But along with its massive reach comes massive problems, more specifically massive budget cuts. With the California general fund, the main source for the education system funding, down 33% ($1.3 billion) from its 5 year peak, the situation is getting critical.

The cuts aren’t superficial, they’re impacting daily lives and affecting the quality of education available. Most schools have had to dramatically decrease the number of classes taught and have forced students from being full time to part time. On average, each school has reduced the number of classes from 10%-25%.
Classes are so full right now that students that were planning on continuing to an university in two years are looking at nearly doubling the time it takes to transfer. One student at the start of her college career was only able to take one class due to the extremely long waiting list in every class. According to a survey conducted by a majority of the member schools, an estimated 685,000 students are on a waiting list for this fall quarter.

Mark Rocha, President of Pasadena City College talked with the media about this situation. “It breaks our hearts,” he said. “The students who are here, we’re desperately telling them ‘Don’t drop out, don’t give up hope. We’ll get you through.'” But, students are struggling to believe that. Wait times for seeing academic counselors extend weeks into the future.

Students looking towards athletics in hopes to transferring to a 4-year university and obtaining a scholarship have found another hard spot. Generally, only full time students are eligible for recruitment and scholarships. Jeffrey MacGillivray has already transferred to three different schools in hopes to seeing his dream come true. “It’s really frustrating, having this goal of running track at a university and graduating with a degree,” he said. “Junior college is being a bigger obstacle than it should be.”