by Chelsea Low
Wednesday, 3 April, marked the third Student Senate Open Forum meeting of the spring semester. This Open Forum was focused on the Student Success Act of 2012.
Aiden Ely, Dean of Student Services, was our guest speaker. His purpose was to get input from the student body of Folsom Lake College and explain the way the SSA will affect students of FLC directly.
A little background: In the in1960s, the UC/CSU/CCC system was created, thus beginning the public state school circus in California. The purpose of CCCs, or California Community Colleges, was low cost and accessibility. And now? It is still fairly accessible. But try to control your jealousy when you learn that classes back then were actually free. Now, it’s over $40 per unit and rising
Completion rates these days are low, sparking the attention of the state government to figure out why less and less students are completing community college. Thus, emphasis has shifted to outcomes.
In 2011, the California state government essentially studied CCCs to figure out what was working and, most importantly, what wasn’t. This yielded the Student Success Task Force Report of recommendations for CCCs, and bringing us full circle to 2012 when the Student Success Act was passed. The SSA only addresses four of the recommendations from the Student Success Task Force Report; however, just four are alone more than enough for the CCCs to take on. The changes will, in some ways, be overwhelming for colleges and students alike.
The four recommendations include mandated services, declaration of course of study, Board of Governors Fee Waiver conditions, and student support initiative. Later, with greater funding, we may even see changes like centralized assessment as opposed to district-wide assessment.
The Student Success Act targets new students and focuses on outcomes: degrees, certificates, transfer, and career advancement. It aims to effectively serve more students through technology, mandate core services, and target funding, among various other purposes.
Being a smaller and newer college, Folsom Lake is going to have to do a lot in the near future. Its students are going to have to collaborate too. And now we come to our most important question: how will students be affected?
For one, students are going to be required to develop an “education plan” when enrolling.
Students must identify a career goal and an academic goal upon application. They must declare a specific course of study after a specific time period or unit accumulation (for example, a student might decide they are going to study biology after taking 30 units of general education courses).
Additionally, class attendance and completion of assigned coursework are mandatory. Most students already do this, of course, but it will be enforced.
Next, completion of courses and maintenance of academic progress toward and said educational goal and course of study in students’ education plans is required.
And lastly, students must meet academic and progress standards for BOG Fee Waivers.
Changes will also be apparent in regards to enrollment priority. First priority will be military veterans and foster youth who are continuing students and in good standing; second will be EOPS and DSPS students; third will be continuing students and new fully matriculated students. The biggest change to this is the requirement of the first group being in good academic standing. Students also must keep in mind that there will be a ninety unit threshold at Folsom Lake College, or else they will lose enrollment priority. Again, these new policies focus colleges on getting results instead of letting students simply skate by.
As for a timeline: between now and June, extensive planning for the Student Success Act will occur. But by the fall 2014 semester, students will be affected, and the discussed changes will be enacted.
Funding will be an issue, of course. It will take years of success to up the current funding, and funding may even be changed as a whole, based on each individual school’s rate of student completion.
After Ely debriefed the plans, a discussion began. Ely, who is involved in the planning of the Student Success Act, wanted actual student input on the bill. We set out to discuss the ways by which we could improve the community college experience. He presented the student perspective of the community college experience step by step, which included interest and application, enrollment, entry into course of study, and completion of courses. He asked us where we lost momentum and why, and what could help create momentum in the future. We tossed around setbacks like lack of courses, inconsistent information from counselors, and transportation issues. I sincerely enjoyed being able to provide input and hopefully improve the community college experience for other incoming students.
If you’re interested in getting involved in the Student Success Act as well, there are a few opportunities Ely presented: you can contact the Matriculation Advisory Committee, the Board of Governors, the Board of Trustees, or the FLC Student Success Subcommittee.
“[California Community College] is going to look a lot more like two years at a four year college,” Ely said.
Does this type of open discussion sound interesting? Do you like pizza? Attend the next Open Forum on 1 May, “Pizza with the President”!
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