Free College Tuition
California Community Colleges have been a model for providing access to students seeking higher education. In the 1960s, community colleges were free, but tuition has since risen to $46/unit. As a Ventura College Promise student, I was fortunate to have my first year of college tuition free in order to pursue my personal education. With the passage of AB19 in 2017, the California College Promise provides free tuition for first-year students, but we are only half-way to achieving what we started. As we see in other communities, San Francisco and Santa Barbara have been capable of achieving their goals of free college tuition to provide access. If elected, I will continue to be an advocate for free-tuition for community college students in Ventura County and California.
It is not enough to provide access for students, but also providing the tools necessary for students to achieve their goals once they step foot on campus. Students are in need of visiting academic counselors to set pathways to complete their goals in two years. When students are dealing with difficult subjects, they should be able to receive help from tutors on campus. Also, students should be able to meet with Financial Aid Technicians in a timely manner.
Community Colleges are essential to preparing a skilled workforce for the future. While students are transferring to achieve four-year degrees, there is a lack of skilled workers to start careers from welding to video game design to nursing. It is our responsibility to be proactive with regional industries and how we can promote economic growth to provide jobs for Ventura County.
College can be a stressful environment and students need to know they can seek mental health services while on campus. With the rise of active shooters taking place across the nation, we must make health resources available on campus and to provide individuals the help they deserve. The HIV/AIDS epidemic has revealed that there is an increase in the number of reported cases in Ventura County. The community colleges should be proactive in working with Ventura County Behavioral Health in order to educate students in alcohol/drug abuse and STD prevention.
Building Community Relationships
Community colleges have the potential to be key community hubs in terms of the arts, recreational activities, business, and much more. We must build those relationships with the local cities, school boards, non-profits, businesses and state institutions to build our community. As the colleges work on their strategic plans for the future, we must work with these other entities to prevent duplication of services and optimize our limited resources. It is crucial that we identify shortcomings in our relationships with other agencies in order to build upon our current programs and possibly create new programs for the future.
Guided Pathways & Student Success
The California Community College Chancellor’s Office and State of California has encouraged each college in the state to create Guided Pathways to promote student success. The elements of the pathways are designed to provide clear information before students start on a path, meet with academic counselors early on, and do continuous check-ins to make sure students are on the right path with a responsive tracking system of courses. We are preparing our students for college, but are we preparing our colleges for students? Students have the right to obtain the goals in transferring to a four-year university, receiving an AA degree, learning a new skill, or taking remedial education.