Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Super Seniors

Some people just never grow up, I guess.

The California State University system has turned its attention to "super seniors" – students who have lingered in school for years even though they have enough credits to graduate.

CSU officials have said they will reduce enrollment by 40,000 students statewide in response to a 20 percent budget cut from the state. In addition to accepting fewer new students for admission, campuses are urging those who should be at the end of their college careers to take the final step and graduate.

"What we're really trying to do is say, 'Have a goal and get there,' " said Jo Volkert, an associate vice president at San Francisco State University. " 'We will help you get there.' "

It may sound like a no-brainer for an institution whose job is to educate students and get them into the work force. But dozens of reasons – from personal to bureaucratic – cause students to rack up units, staying in school longer than necessary. They take up seats in classes they don't need and cost taxpayers along the way: The state pays CSU about $7,000 a year for each full-time student enrolled.
"The state" isn't paying for these people, the taxpayer is.


Ellen K said...

Just as an example, Texas enacted this bill where students have four years to graduate or risk paying higher tuition. The problem is that with jobs scarce and loans hard to come by, many students find themselves in the position of having to work more hours to pay for tuition. Raise the tuition more and that just means more hours have to be worked. At some point students may be forced to simply give up. While I don't think any school should allow someone to linger for years on taxpayer funding-as far too many do-it is also a problem when universities play fast and loose with tuition billing. For example, in his last semester before graduation, literally weeks before, a large state university decided to inform my daughter's boyfriend that a scholarship he was awarded had fallen through. They gave him THREE DAYS to come up with $1200. His parents couldn't help, being unemployed, and the kid himself was working as much as he could while attending school. Colleges have pulled this type of thing far too often. Yet when an accounting is demanded, they demur. My son's girlfriend graduated from another large state school in December. The registrar conveniently "forgot" to include a semester in France and additional hours that would fulfill an additional minor. Instead they passed out countless forms at graduation explaining why students weren't being awarded their degrees. Here's my theory-there are entire layers of bureaucracy and waste in any state university system that nobody would miss if it disappeared tomorrow. So rather than going after students for funding, how about they start cutting the fat from existing programs? Just a thought.

Anonymous said...

I'm sick and tired of people using government assistance for too long. I'm also sick and tired of a government that allows people to live off of it for too long. I'm also sick and tired and those who use government to finance their get rich schemes. I'm just sick and tired of it all.


Bill said...

At least with the CSU system there's another common cause for this...lack of availability of required courses. My older son is a graduate of Cal Poly (SLO) and took four and a half years (including one summer) for this reason.

He did manage a double major (EE and Math) because he kept carrying a full academic load.

My younger son went through the UC system, which, while more expensive on an annual basis, was much better about making the required stuff available.

Scott McCall said...

being a jr at the university of arizona, i can say that it's not easy graduating in 4 years. my first two years had 13-14 units per semester, this semester i have 15, and next year (hopefully my last) will carry 19 units each semester; all so i can graduate on time. that is also including 3 summer programs, and 1 semester's worth of AP college credit. i BARELY made it in 4 years, and I didnt take any extra courses, just the ones needed to get my degree. so i'll have to agree that universities shouldnt punish students if they dont graduate in 4 years; instead, the universities should just trim off the extra requirements for degrees. during my freshman orientation they showed a study that for my major (computer engineering), university of arizona has been continuously adding requirements to get my degree, they have yet to remove a requirement.