Community colleges feel the weight of impaction

Adolfo Flores

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With four year institutions like California State Universities capping its enrollment and unemployment raising many are flocking to community colleges, in hopes of making themselves more marketable.

In fact CSUN stopped accepting applications from two-year institution transfer students for the 2009 fall semester on Feb. 15 due to an increase in applications.

The increase in demand and the state’s funding being short over $300 million for community colleges a quarter of a million students will be denied access, said Ron Owens spokesperson for the California community college system.

‘Basically (community colleges) have been experiencing an increase in enrollment by 9.8 percent from previous years because the current situation in California has prompted a lot of people to go back to school and improve their skill set,’ Owens said.

‘We have a $332 million reduction in funding that would result in 260,000 community college students without access to community colleges’hellip;the loss is the same as closing down USC.’

In addition many students enrolled in University’s of California and CSU’s are taking classes at junior colleges because it’s much cheaper than their own campuses, said Owens, creating a ‘perfect storm.’

‘This semester’s been really hard because (Pierce has) been overcrowded,’ said Cindy Rosas, a freshman at Pierce Community College. ‘It’s not the same anymore because when you want to add a class you need, there’s a pretty good chance you’re not going to get into it.’

Owens has heard from several students regarding overcrowded classrooms. One woman who was attending Sacramento City College stood out.

‘I talked to one community college student trying to get into a class where students basically went into the class and had to sit on the floor,’ Owens said. ‘We’re talking about not providing access to students and that’s probably what’s happening all over the state.’

Should resources continue to decrease and put a strain on junior colleges Owens foresees a higher percentage of an uneducated workforce who won’t be able to compete for well paying jobs.

‘They won’t be able to buy goods or services, buy a home or pay taxes, that’s the basis of our economy,’ he said. ‘That’s the downside for not investing in California’s most viable capital.’

Two-year institutions gave students who may not have been able to afford to attend a four year institution access to a higher education.

‘Millions of Californians were able to go to college for the first time because of community colleges,’ Owens said.

Javier Hernandez, director of CSUN’s Student Outreach and Recruitment Services, said he isn’t sure how long the campus will remain impacted. Still ending the filing period on Feb. 15 isn’t going to have a big impact because CSUN remained open past the filing period either way.

At most it would add about 150 applicants to next years pool.

‘If there’s any impact it would be to those students who have less access to information,’ Hernandez said. ‘Students that have less access to information and resources, primarily income individuals, may be impacted a bit more because often times they’re having to work longer and take courses off hours.’

For now Hernandez plans on keeping community college students informed about any changes in deadline.

Omid Abrishami, who transferred to Los Angeles Mission College two semesters ago from Pierce because the campus was so overcrowded he couldn’t get the classes he needed to transfer. Still he isn’t worried about the impaction and strain on community colleges.

‘If you sign up on time you should be okay you just have to know what you need,’ said Abrishami, who plans on transferring to CSUN. ‘Still I can see how it might be harder for some people to get out.’