Posted at 1:00 PM on January, 29 2016
Recently, I visited a few community colleges and spoke to their students about college. One particular student, I’ll refer to him as John, had a really tough story to tell. He had been trying to complete his associate degree in Anthropology for the last 10 years. Earlier, he was working in Texas but his fulltime work could not accommodate his college studies. He was great at his job and enjoyed his work, but the lack of a college degree was impeding his career progression.
When I spoke to him, he had quit his job and was enrolled in a community college fulltime in California. He met his living expenses from his college scholarship money and often had very little money. All his life revolved around the timing of the scholarship money he received, which he needed to make his monthly rental payments.
Transferring his prior college credits from out of state was also an uphill battle. He had to work very hard by repeatedly speaking with the college administrators and student advisors to transfer credits to the college. I was so touched by his experience. It is students like him that I seriously wish I could help, or had helped so many years back.
Another student at a community college I met, I’ll refer to her as Maria. Maria was studying in a community college for over 5 years and was yet far from completing her 2yr degree. She had received partial scholarship and also works part-time. Despite this, she did not receive the right guidance from her student counselors at her college. So she ended up completing many college courses that did not meet the requirements for her degree. She has an excess of general education credits, and very little of the courses needed for a communications degree. At the time I met her, she was eager and anxious to complete any sort of associate degree, so she could end this college phase, and enter the workforce fulltime. Money was starting to get tight for her, and she only had one more year before her scholarship money would run out completely.
The one positive thing I found in both John and Maria is that they did not take any student loans. They were smart enough to push for scholarships and had no intention of taking on student loans when their scholarship money ran out. But instead of wasted money on loans, they have unwittingly sacrificed many years of their lives at these community colleges. Following counselor advice have left them with no end in sight for completing their college degrees.
Perhaps if John and Maria had better guidance from the college counselors, they would have completed their college degree many years ago. Upon speaking with many students across a few community colleges, one of the top complaints has been that the college counselors often mislead and misguide the students into taking unwanted courses. Ultimately, the result is that many students are unable to focus on anything, and often do not even know what type of degree they should specialize in.
My initial thought was that John and Maria were the exception. But as we spoke with more students it became evident that their woes are shared by the vast majority of the student population in community colleges today.
So what is the real price of this misguidance?
- Lots of WASTED EFFORT
- Years of WASTED TIME
- WASTED MONEY on taking unnecessary and unwanted college courses
- Accrual of EXHORBITANT STUDENT LOANS in a number of cases
- Lots of FRUSTRATION AND MISERY for the students
- NO/ ZERO COLLEGE DEGREE
It is perplexing why so many colleges are going about misleading the students into taking unwanted courses! It seems that each college, in its eagerness to grab onto all of the student’s scholarship money fails to take the students aptitude and objectives into account. For if they did, you would not have a John or Maria spending 6 to 10 years trying to get an associate degree.
In conclusion, if the students do not take 200% ownership for getting their degrees, they will be lost in the chaos of college administrators, counselors and their politics. If John and Maria had taken matters into their own hands, instead of the blind trust in the college, they would have greatly increased their odds of staying on track to a timely completion of their accredited degrees.
We do not need any more adults in their 20’s, 30’s, or even 40’s working waiting tables or in checkout counters because they could not complete college.
So WAKE UP to the challenge!!