How California Community Colleges Can Stem Falling Enrollment

the California community college enrollment collapse has been a long time coming, but that’s no surprise.

There are common threads as to why community colleges hit a wall. Take a look at some of the reasons we’re seeing more students drop out now:

  • They often lack the practical skills necessary for the personal interview. Personal needs can overwhelm the best of intentions.
  • Students are less likely have lived independently and lack the management skills to do so.
  • Significant numbers of marginalized and systemically discriminated students attend community colleges and have less ability to navigate complex social systems of housing, finance, food, education, transportation, technology and social ties.
  • Lack of childcare. Single mothers are among the poorest cohort of struggling students.
  • Community college students generally engage in less long-term life planning and are more tempted by short-term rewards, such as the higher wage ratesthan the distant rewards of a degree.
  • Today, they have less family support and poorer physical and mental health.

Ask yourself, how come all this was not a problem before 1980? Because the house was different.

We are now in the second generation of those who have never experienced a well-run home or access to instructions on how it happens. Many have survived through the military, incarceration, or being airlifted too much, stripped of personal credit and maintenance. They may be immigrants who are unfamiliar with American social systems — in other words, many don’t know how to live and go to school or work at the same time.

Sandra Ericson.

One big reason: Traditional home economics courses, which included financial management, were mandatory for women in high school and offered at many community colleges, but were discontinued in the 1980s — often for good reason. – to encourage women to take up professional positions.

Previously, women were the traditional source of support for the home and children. Now this does not happen automatically. Schools did not teach men the sciences, child development, or consumerism needed to meet basic family needs. Psychologist Abraham Maslow made meeting these needs the first thing you should do their hierarchy of needs for a reason, because those needs are the highest priority for everyone.

Another reason for declining enrollment: Since the 1980s, the complexity of American life support systems has exceeded bandwidth and the cognitive load of even those with advanced degrees, not to mention that of a young, immature, or disadvantaged person. Poor food and nutrition at medical bankruptcythe penalties for not understanding physical health are now quite straightforward and costly.

Avoiding this fate requires constant expertise and vigilance from the food and medical industries. Even the pros end now spiral down in this fragile society while just trying to live and show up on time. Retiring without fear requires direct, lifelong instructions that are constantly updated.

And here’s another reason: community colleges have turned away from one of their core missions, the development of human capabilities, and turned to appeasing employers and public service economists who view workers as units. .

Community colleges have become taxpayer-funded outsourced training grounds for many employers, some of whom just speculate on what jobs might be out there, forcing more people to repeatedly retrain. Because community colleges are the beginning of adult life after leaving home, at 18 or on the second try, they should serve both employers and workers long-term, not short-term. Community colleges must educate students to be productive in all human environments – personal, professional, social, civic, and natural – to be the best employees.

The only solution is to proxy the kernel Human Ecology Education (contemporary, gender-neutral “Home Economics Plus”). Make it a requirement to graduate.

Human Ecology is personal failure insurance in an educational package. It is as valuable to success as math, English or science. There is no other entity in American society other than community colleges that can provide this education on the scale required.

Sandra Ericson chaired the Consumer Arts and Science department at City College of San Francisco for 28 years. She served 12 years, including three elected terms, on the Napa Valley College Board of Trustees.

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