The time it takes a CSUN student to graduate averages out to roughly six years. That is a little bit more than half a decade, so most of the CSUN students have seen the campus change over time.
It has been five years since I first stepped onto this campus and I still have another semester to go before I can graduate from this university. The questions that came to my mind the third year of college life were, why am I still a sophomore and not a junior? What am I going to major in and how did I fall behind? It took me a semester to figure out the answer to these questions.
When I first came to CSUN, I remember the campus being a very quiet and calm environment. Not many students were socializing because there were very few places to hang out. Now there is a Sierra Center where many people like to go.
The settings around CSUN have changed a lot and it now looks like a beautiful campus that any student would be proud to say is their school. The one thing that has not changed at CSUN is the time it takes a student to graduate, get advisement, class schedules and teacher’s salaries.
As a freshman in 2001, advisement, classes, professors, and graduation did not matter to me. I was just happy to be out of high school and in college. I was cruising through my first year in college, never seeking advice or caring what classes I was taking and who my teachers were. My first five semesters at CSUN, I only took four classes each semester. I took random general education classes that hopefully counted toward my degree. No one explained to me that at the rate I was going, I would graduate in six years. So I was confused when it took me almost two years to become a sophomore, then it took me another year and a half to become a junior. That’s when I began to ask questions.
While I was trying to figure out what was going to become of my college life, CSUN was under construction. Buildings were being constructed, renovated, and the campus being landscaped.
I did not pay attention to the new environment being erected around me. What I remember is classes being full beyond capacity and lines of students waiting to add a class, students being rejected by professors, and students pleading with professors that they need the class. I also remember the day I picked my major and went to declare it. That was the day I got my college life together. I was headed toward computer engineering when by sheer luck I found sociology. I was taking a sociology class and thought that the subject was boring and wondered why anyone would be interested in it. Then I heard about a class called criminology, and I knew I was interested in it immediately and found my major.
Although I was getting my college life straightened out, I was still cruising through my classes, not caring about getting into the ones I needed.
By the end of my sophomore year, I realized that I would not graduate anytime soon at the rate I was going. I realized how far I had fallen behind as compared to my other friends at other colleges.
Yet at CSUN, many of the friends that started the school year with me were still at the same level as I was, some even more behind than I was. Why were CSUN students falling behind other college students? Was it because the students didn’t care about school and putting in enough effort? Or was the school not putting enough effort into the students?
I came to the conclusion that they are both true, but I believe the majority of the blame falls on the school because the students are paying to give them opportunities. The school seems to think that incoming freshmen are able to make informed decisions.
Yes, most freshmen can make informed decisions, but the information has to be there in order to make such decisions. I remember the first bit of advisement I received at CSUN through EOP, where advisement was mandatory for incoming freshmen. The advice they gave me was that I should take four classes from the GE list. That’s all they said and picked four classes for me. So I assumed that I only needed four classes a semester. I returned the next semester and they told me to pick four classes on my own and that was the last piece of advice I received from anyone involved at CSUN.
CSUN needs to take some responsibility for its students and stop seeing them as dollar signs. There are enough palm trees and buildings at our school already, but there are not enough classes or professors.
Now, five and a half years and $15,000 later, I am finally going to graduate. President Jolene Koester has been here since July 1, 2000, one year before I was accepted to CSUN. She and the other CSU presidents have received a salary, housing and car allowance increase that collectively amounted to over $1.2 million. This money could have provided courses students need to graduate on time. It could have helped me graduate on time.
Since 2002, student fees have increased 76% for undergraduates, 106% for graduates, and now the California State University System is under-budgeted and needs $1.5 billion in order to provide the necessary services students need to graduate. That is why they are increasing fees, placing vending machines around campus, erecting more businesses around us, firing faculty and cutting classes.
We need to stand up to the fat cats in the state capitol and require them to provide more money to the students. We don’t need fee increases, we need classes, teachers and advisement. That is why we need to become more educated about this cause which we are going to fight and win. I invite you to come and learn more at Education Fest on May 9, at 12 p.m. at the Matador Bookstore lawn. No longer will the students at CSUN be ignored and taken advantaged of.
Justin Rivas can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.