The California higher education system is gradually turning into an obstacle course.
After students jump over the hurdle of tuition hikes, they must find their way through the maze of CSU and UC admission make their way through swampy grounds of increasingly scarce classes, swim through the pool of thousands of other applicants and maybe someone might win that precious prize called admission to a four-year college.
For students tired and frustrated from the race, including those affected by the CSU freeze, the counselors at Glendale are here to be supportive and help get students back on track.
Kevin Meza, GCC transfer center coordinator, advises students to use their time wisely, which may include taking additional courses for their degree, getting work experience, applying for internships or studying abroad.
“[Students should] look at private schools and out-of-state schools because those are other options [alternatives to CSU],” said Meza.
Meza also encourages students to check out the Transfer Center webpage on the CSU website, http://www.csumentor.edu and individual schools’ websites in the summer because sometimes the budget changes and the Cal States might reverse their decision to freeze spring admissions.
If students can’t find the courses they need at one college, they should go to others to take those courses and fulfill their requirements, Meza said.
Edward Karpp, the dean of research, planning and grants, emphasized on the importance of political involvement at times like this.
“The whole higher education system in the state is being affected by the budget. I’ve heard that legislators do listen to the students because their voices are very important,” Karpp says.
“So if students are motivated by these kinds of setbacks to become politically active and at least make the legislators and the people more aware of how their cuts affect college students and California in general, then that could be a positive outcome to all these problems that we’re having,” said Karpp.
Ron Nakasone, vice president of administrative services, also emphasized the importance of political action on the part of students, especially when it comes to the Nov. 6 ballot.
“The tax initiative has to pass for us to start coming back. If it doesn’t pass, then we’re in for a number of difficult years, and it’s going to get even worse than it is now.”
In the meantime, students should register as soon as possible and be flexible, Nakasone said, as students might have to take classes in late afternoons or at night to fulfill requirements.
Ricardo Perez, the vice president of student services, strongly advises students to “meet with a counselor to make sure they meet the admission requirements for the Cal States, UCs – wherever they’re going.”
Students should also take advantage of the online education plan recently created under the leadership of Jewel Price, dean of student services.
After meeting with an academic counselor, students can access and make changes to the unofficial version of the education plan onlinr at myGCC.
Only the student counseling office will have access to the official version of the plan, thus, encouraging students to occasionally go back and follow up on their progress with a counselor.
Perez, just like Meza, advises students to consider the options of attending a UC, a private school or an out-of-state college.
“Visit the career center, take student development classes related to career exploration,” says Perez, “[Students] need to really truly narrow down their major … being undecided is not a good thing.”
Meza shares Perez’s concern for undecided students at a time when transferring to a four-year college is difficult even for those who have clear educational goals.
“The ones that are going to be most hurt are the students who are on the margin, students who are kind of figuring their lives out, seeing if school is right for them – this would discourage them from continuing.”
The California higher education obstacle course is certainly full of many challenges and setbacks. Yet this is no time for giving up or dropping out of the race. Like true athletes, students have to stay in the game and deal with the difficulties to the best of their abilities.
“You can’t get frustrated,” said Nakasone. “Education is key for success. It may take you a little longer, but don’t give up just because it’s hard…. It’s going to turn around at some point. So you’ve got to keep going after it.”