On Feb. 22, Community College Chancellor Eloy Oakley talked about policy changes via a media teleconference regarding The Build-Back-Better agenda, framework backed by The White House to rebuild the middle class, and its effort to fund new academic programs to encourage enrollment.
As a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, concerns about sharp declines in collegiate enrollment has caused many schools in California to consider different approaches when it comes to encouraging the pursuit of education. Similarly, at a federal level, policy makers are being pushed to expand eligibility for financial aid applicants so that more students like DACA or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival recipients can obtain college degrees.
To turn the trend of poor enrollment around, Oakley encourages students to take advantage of lesser known and newer academic programs that are coming to various California campuses. He also stressed the importance of earning credit for endeavors outside of the classroom, such as apprenticeships or military service training.
These programs, often referred to as prior learning credit pathways, allow busy students the chance to get ahead and reward them for their learning apart from academics.
“This is a valuable tool that helps them gain credit for things that they have learned already in their life, work and military experience, which we think is important to acknowledge and support as they pursue higher education.” Oakley said.
Additionally, The Economic Value of California Report was released to highlight academic and financial statistics gathered from The Bureau of Labor Statistics to exemplify the amount of earnings that taxpayers receive when investing in a California Community College.
“According to the report, in return for their investment, California community college students receive the cost-benefit ratio of five to one which means that for every dollar investment student in their education you know that that equates to at least 5 more dollars in future earnings.” Oakley said.
He continued, “That’s a huge win for taxpayers in the State of California, and I think we need to continue to echo that message every time a taxpayer invests in California community college.”
The report also showed that the average student who earns an associate degree will see an increase of at least $11,000 more annually in comparison to those with only high school diplomas.
Furthermore, schools across the state are working on expanding Associate Degree for Transfer pathways, also known as ADT’s, which allow students to transfer with a guaranteed spot to a specific college and quickly obtain their associate’s.
Schools are also introducing several late-start, full-credit classes set to begin early March for students who struggle to fit education into their schedules.
“These are great options for our students, so that they can either stay enrolled or find a flexible option that allows them to get enrolled.” Oakley said.
While many changes to the community college system are in-the-works, Chancellor Oakley maintains a firm stance on increasing enrollment by echoing concerns and addressing the needs of college students.
Sophia Sipe is Editor-In-Chief for The Express. Follow her @sophiasipe.