Saturday, March 13, 2010

California Higher Education System More Screwed Up Than I Thought

California's 3-tiered higher education system, consisting of community colleges, the 23-campus California State University system, and the 10-campus University of California system, used to be considered the gold standard in US higher education. A top-flight education could be earned at a reasonable cost.

How is it, then, that our colleges and universities can't even get transfer agreements right a full 50 years after creating the master plan?

It's supposed to be the path to an affordable, high-quality education: attend a California community college for two years, then transfer to one of the state's public universities.

In reality, though, few community college students who set out to transfer actually make it to the university gates – and those who do often take more than two years to get there. They are mired by dozens of bureaucratic roadblocks, from conflicting academic calendars, to an outdated computer program that doesn't accurately track which classes count toward transferring, to entrance requirements that vary from one university to the next – even within the same major.

And that's despite numerous attempts over the years to smooth the transfer process for students moving from community college to the University of California or the California State University...

The idea is to get all three branches of higher education in California to agree on transfer requirements for each major. Under Shulock's vision, a community college student could follow a single course of study in a given major and be prepared to transfer to any UC or CSU campus...

To illustrate, Shulock described the requirements a community college student faces if she wants to transfer to UC or CSU as a psychology major.

San Jose State requires the transfer student take biology or anatomy to be admitted. Sonoma State doesn't require science but does require statistics. Sacramento State doesn't require either.
Doesn't it just make you wonder how anything gets done in this state, and highlight just how bad anything related to our state government truly is?

50 years later, and they can't even get transfers right.


PeggyU said...

You think that's bad ... try transferring from a school in another state! Our daughter transferred to Sac State. I am really regretting her decision, as every time she thinks she is about to finish up, they find a new requirement that was overlooked.

Anonymous said...

Not to mention engineering majors. Decades ago Sacramento instituted organization called the Engineering Liaison Council to act as an advisory committee for engineering programs statewide. It is comprised of the engineering program heads at the junior college and university levels, public and private. In truth the ELC is an oligarchy that has instituted policies limiting the creation of engineering programs, short-changing talented students who may not be able to relocate from communities that do not have engineering programs, whether AS or BS level. Case in point, according the ELC decree CSU Bakersfield may not create programs in mechanical, electrical, civil, or chemical engineering despite the two main local industries being petroleum (production and refinement) and agriculture. The argument is that it would infringe on the numbers students transferring to CSU Northridge and Fresno State.

Ellen K said...

Texas created a core curriculum which if taught at a community college or other state school must be given credit if the student transfers. In theory this allows students to change schools or to move from community colleges to four year schools without any penalty. The problem is that these core classes are also the classes taught for pay by grad students at four year institutions. So eliminating students, limits sections opened and therefore limits jobs for grad students. For this reason many state schools no longer accept CLEP credit and quite a few refuse even high scores on AP exams for credit. In one case, a friend of my daughter's took AP exams in English, Spanish, Chemistry, Physics, World History, Government and Latin. He went to UT's engineering school where they only offered him credit for the Spanish AP exam. At that point, taking AP classes, which can be more intense than some college courses, seems to be useless. So the action dumbs down the high school curriculum for the student who is capable of passing only to provide steady tuition income.

John Sanzone said...

My belief is that good professors and administrators flocked to the California public education system (particularly UC) because they perceived it as a socialistic ideal.

Obviously it's easier and easier to see through the public higher education gamble (and even primary and secondary schools in some states) as costs rise and rise and rise all out of proportion.

Kristeen & Keith said...

I've seen this transfer problem in other states too and not just at the undergraduate level. It's all about the money. Sure, come to our school! Oh and now that you're here, please retake all the classes you already took. You see, you didn't pay US to take them!

I taught for several years and every state wants you to take their state test and pay for their state paperwork and on and on. It's all about the money. In no way is this about helping students graduate and heaven forbid, possibly save some money while doing it.