Budget Cuts Lengthen College Degree Programs

Budget Cuts Lengthen College Degree Programs

How the Recession is affecting students’ ability to get a college education.

The current economic recession is having a number of consequences for today’s college students. In addition to making it more difficult for them to save enough money to pay for ever-increasing college expenses, it’s also leaving them fewer jobs when they graduate from their college degree programs.

A recent Associated Press article suggests there’s also an additional factor that’s affecting students’ ability to get a college education: Budget cuts. As a result of cuts to their education budgets, schools are being forced to lay off instructors, cut down courses and otherwise reduce the number of classes available to students.

The result of these cuts is that it can be harder for students to enroll in the courses required for their degree programs, making it take longer for them to graduate from college. Students are increasingly landing on wait lists for required courses and having to pay for additional semesters of room and board, tuition, transportation and other college costs.

Further complicating matters for students is that some financial aid requires students to take a full courseload, which is now more difficult with reduced course offerings. The cuts in classes are hitting students at various stages of their college education.

Professors in entry-level classes are often laid off first, so students may have difficulty completing their core courses, which are required for enrolling in advanced courses later. Reduced core courses mean first-year students are also competing with upperclassmen for introductory courses, further reducing their ability to enroll in necessary classes. Upperclassmen may also find that specialized courses in their majors are cut because of lack of popularity, which could inhibit them from specializing in an area of study, and thereby restrict them from enrolling in a graduate school program in this field.

While today’s students are facing severe hindrances, there are also signs that school administrations and the federal government are poised to help resolve current issues. To help students adapt to the new restrictions, colleges are making changes in class size. The article reports that some schools, like the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, are raising the enrollment caps in certain courses to accommodate more students.

The article also discusses additional ways to handle this growing issue: One educator reportedly said that universities could focus more on their undergraduate programs, rather than catering to more prestigious, but less essential, graduate programs, to help students complete their degrees. The article also notes that other suggestions for improving the situation are for professors to be encouraged to teach more core courses and for students to choose classes at less popular times, like early morning.

On a larger scale, President Obama’s administration is putting more focus on the issues at our colleges and universities and is putting additional funding to help students complete college degrees. Through grants, scholarships and increased attention on the issues students today face, there should be improvement and effective solutions in the near future.

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