Sunday, August 30, 2009

CSU to "Super-Seniors": Don't Let the Door Hit You on the Way Out

I'm taking a little issue with the depiction of "super-seniors" in Matt Krupnick's article Cal State to 'super seniors': Graduate, already, which seems to imply that many of the CSU students who have more than 200 credit units acquired (according to the article 180 is needed to graduate) need to just "forgo that baseball history class", as stated in the article.

It doesn't really help that the only student quoted in the article argues that
"College isn't really to be pushed out of," said Thomas Candelario, a Cal State East Bay graduate student. "College is a time to grow as a person."
or that:
college is the only place people can learn about subjects such as world music and folklore

It's not that he's necessarily wrong that a higher education should be about more than being trained to make money at a higher level, but the opening tone of the article implies that many "super-seniors" are most likely students who are staying in college because they want to keep taking courses that aren't essential to their degree, or that they just don't want to leave the womb that is college.

The crux of this issue is that CSU has announced it will be reducing its enrollment by 40,000 students over the next two years, and one of its emerging strategies, in addition to closing spring 2010 enrollment, as it has done already, will most likely be to automatically graduate these super-seniors.

But super-seniors are more than just students hanging around for a "baseball history" class (btw, is this class listed in Krupnick's article even real--or just fictionalized in a way to further disparage CSU students?).

Super-seniors can also include returning students--people who have been laid off and lost their jobs due to the recession/depression, who are now enrolling in the CSU to obtain a second bachelor's degree in a different job field in the hopes of restarting their career. Too bad no one told them that even if CSU wasn't trying to kick them out, that they'd still have to deal with rising student fees every year, plus the increasing difficulty of actually getting enrolled into any of the classes they need for their degree!

And speaking of that, as classes that students need for their degrees continue to get cut, we'll be seeing more and more students changing their majors in the hopes of getting the classes they need to actually graduate sometime within six years (the average amount of time it now takes to get a CSU degree).

And let's not forget with the class shortages everyone in the CSU system is facing, that many students who would rather take a class they need for their degree will no doubt be enrolling in "baseball history"--just to obtain the minimum amount of units needed to keep their financial aid, healthcare, and campus housing.

So we can blame super-seniors for gumming up the system, taking up precious class space that could have been opened up to others, but we need to keep in mind that very soon many students will be joining the ranks of super-seniors as they struggle to get any classes at all, and that getting to take the classes they need for their field of study will simply be a luxury that many will not receive.

As more and more turn into super-seniors and become automatically "graduated" the real question is: will a CSU degree mean anything anymore, if anyone can get an honorary degree so long as they've been enrolled long enough? I wouldn't mind being awarded an honorary degree by a higher education institution, but I sure don't want to have to pay 6+ years worth of tuition for one!