California Community Colleges to Offer 4 Year Degrees

November 10, 2014

15 in-state community colleges will offer 4 year degrees after California Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill on September 28 to authorize the pilot program.

According to Alexei Koseff of Capitol Alert, the initiative, called Senate Bill 850, approves the program to run from 2017 to 2024. The pilot program is intended to allow community colleges to experiment with four-year degrees.  If the program is deemed successful by lawmakers, it could be expanded and extended.

California will become the 23rd state to offer 4-year degrees through a community college system. Currently, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Washington, Wisconsin, and West Virginia are using programs similar to the one California plans to implement.

College advisor Joan Batcheller explained how the pilot program will affect students in Moraga. “We have 20% of our students who go to community college and if community colleges are offering 4 year degrees, then they can stay at those college they’re at instead of having to do the transfer to a 4 year state school or 4 year university,” she said.

According to Batcheller, community colleges have a huge advantage over other schools. “The cost can be astronomical, for schools, $68,000 for some private institutions with room and board and tuition. Community colleges cost, well, a lot less money. For some people, financially, it makes more sense.

According to the September 29 press release from the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office, the state Chancellor’s Office will work with UC and CSU  to choose the districts that will host the pilot program. The decision is subject to California Community Colleges Board of Governors approval.

“The districts will be chosen based on ability and interest in establishing rigorous undergrad programs that confer degrees in high demand among regional employers, and that achieving a geographical balance of districts to maximize student enrollment will be another factor,” the release stated.

Lawmakers brought forth the initiative in order to help in-state students land stable jobs. Batcheller said that she’d like to see both DVC and Berkeley City College take part in the pilot. “DVC would probably be the one [included in the pilot] because it’s the largest and personally I’d like to see Berkeley City College because kids can go there, and are happy to be there as students because you’re on Shaddock; you’re in the college environment,” she said.

“I’d like to see success and see how well the students are being educated at the community level. I think college’s main goal is to have its students be able to be employed. Ideally, careers they’re passionate about, but once you graduate from college, you really need a job to pay your bills,” Batcheller added.

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