Living in academic purgatory


As the California State University system threatens to close the door on higher education, students are left with fewer options when President Barack Obama urges them to enroll in at least one year of secondary education.

In his Feb. 25 speech, Obama explained that all Americans, young and old, should enroll in at least one year of higher education to make themselves more viable in the American job market during the recession.

Obama’s point was met with a strong reaction from the right and at one point he was even called a “snob” by 2012 presidential candidate Rick Santorum.

“There are good decent men and women who go out and work hard every day and put their skills to test that aren’t taught by some liberal college professor to try to indoctrinate them,” Santorum said.

“He wants you to go to college, he wants to remake you in his image.”

Santorum makes a good point that college is not the only way to succeed in America, but “snob” is hardly an accurate word to apply to the president for encouraging citizens to better themselves through higher education. In today’s economy, “unrealistic” is a word that is much more fitting.

If CSU admissions grind to a halt next spring, and tuition rises at CSUs and community colleges across the state, the availability of post-secondary education in California will slip away.

Even if community college students meet the requirements of the Student Transfer Achievement Reform Act, which guarantees transfer to schools within the CSU system, they could still be turned away as a result of the new cuts.

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Soon-to-be transfer students are left with limited options.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported in January 2012 that college graduates had a 4.2 percent unemployment rate compared to 8.4 percent for those with only a high school diploma, and 13.1 percent without one.

If what was once the most affordable way to attain a bachelor’s degree becomes out of reach for most college students, the only place to turn is costly and competitive University of California campuses, and pricey private institutions.

This means facing a dilemma–attend UCs or private schools and leave with debt from college loans, or skip college altogether and enter a world with twice the chance of being unemployed compared with what a college grad faces.

Californians are being wronged by these new admission blocks.

What is needed is a complete reform and overhaul of our education system.

This is a state issue and the federal government’s hands are tied. In the short term, change lies with California voters and their decision to implement Gov. Jerry Brown’s new tax measure on the November ballot that raises taxes on millionaires to help fund education.

Only if this measure passes can California live up to Obama’s aspiration for a skilled and educated nation.

If nothing is done, America and California will fall farther behind in the world ranking of education, guaranteeing an ignorant nation for years to come.

An illustration where a chair is blocking the Admissions door while many hands struggle to push open the door. Some hands are holding flag of colleges such as FCC, SAC, IVC, SCC, and GWC.

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