For many students enrolled in a degree program at a state college, time is not running out. It is lengthening – into an expensive, crowded experience.
Due to state budget cuts, staff is being reduced and classes are being cut. Those classes that do remain are increasing in class size. For many students, classes required for their major no longer are offered. Waiting lists for core level classes are getting longer. Students are losing financial aid because they are not meeting set minimum course load levels.
Laid off workers enrolled in job retraining programs are feeling the pinch. In a short training program, courses are usually offered in sequence, so not getting into a class means waiting a full calendar year. A one or two year program can take three or four years under these circumstances, thereby defeating the goal of worker retraining programs.
Policy makers are calling for colleges and universities to focus on pushing students through in a timelier manner. But that can only go so far. With larger class sizes, quality suffers. Professors are being asked to take more and more students, and some are refusing.
Institutions might need to return to the model of classroom instruction some of us remember with despair: a lecture hall filled with hundreds of students, taught by a graduate student reading notes into a microphone from the lectern. Got any questions? Sorry, class has ended; you will just have to read your $200 textbook.