Published November 10, 2012
SAN FRANCISCO – They’re called super seniors, and they can be found on nearly every college campus in America.
These veteran undergraduates have amassed many more units — and taken many more classes — than they need to earn a degree, with college careers that can stretch well beyond the traditional four years.
At California State University, the nation’s largest four-year college system, school administrators say enough is enough. They say the 23-campus system can no longer afford to let students linger so long without collecting their diplomas.
After gentler efforts to prod super seniors toward graduation, Cal State officials want to start charging hefty fees that could almost triple the cost for students who have completed five years of full-time undergraduate work.
The proposed fee — like those adopted in several other states — is aimed at encouraging students to finish their degrees faster and make room for new undergrads in an era of scarce resources. Deep budget cuts over the past four years have forced CSU to sharply raise tuition, cut academic programs and turn away tens of thousands of qualified students.
“If we can graduate more students, we can create more capacity to enroll more students,” said Eric Forbes, the system’s assistant vice chancellor for student academic services. “It’s about access and creating more efficiency in the system.”
But the idea doesn’t sit well with students who say they would be punished for switching majors, adding a major or minor or getting bad academic advice. They complain that budget cuts have made it harder to get classes they need, so many students take courses they don’t need just to keep their financial aid.
“Sometimes through no fault of their own, students are forced into being super seniors,” said David Allison, president of the California State Student Association. “It could harm individuals who change their majors as they figure out what they want to do with their lives.”
I have mixed feelings about such things. There are many students in such situations due to circumstances beyond their control. When I was in college, I would have been considered a super senior. The only provision in their proposal that would have helped me was basing it on the number classes/units taken. I never failed a class and didn’t take un-needed electives except for one in my very last semester to keep me above the 12 credit hour mark–and then I took Spanish pass/faill. I had taken two years of Spanish in HS and didn’t need another busy work class while finishing my senior design project.
After my first two years of college, I ran out of money. My father naively thought that the Democrats that he voted for would send me so, he made no plans for my education (not that I expected him to either). It took 3 years to work and save enough to start again. For the remaining 3 years, I worked full-time and went to school full-time (12+ credit hours per semester). I did so while taking higher level engineering, math, and science courses. Not looking for praise but emphasizing the fact that I wasn’t just taking advantage of the system and being a professional student.
While I understand such measures to keep students moving through the system and making openings for new students, the ones that are working the hardest on their own are usually the ones that get screwed. CA, being the commie state that it is, would probably love to punish such self-movitated people. I can tell you that my outlook on life was much more Conservative after my college experience. I learned the hard way that if you want something bad enough, you will take responsibility and do what it takes to achieve such a goal.
Perhaps this could back lash on CA. I was raised to be a good and naive Democrat. My life experience, due to lack of government help, made me much more Conservative.
However, we now have half of our population that think that I am at my place in society through deceit, preference, and/or dumb luck and they want to take it from me because they do not have the intestinal fortitude to achieve such things on their own.