By Brian Villalba
Time is not on your side.
Santa Monica College will be offering additional courses at an extra fee for students when all the scheduled classes are full. This is a great idea for East Los Angeles College. This service will cost $200 per unit. That could be up to $1,000 for just one class. If you are trying to transfer or graduate, then this is a way to pay extra and get the classes you need without having to wait a semester.
In this economic climate, where educational institutions are under assault for cash, this service is a clever start to mitigate the decline in classes available to students. An overpriced class is infinitely better than no class at all. In the end, you may pay $200 per unit and take on some extra debt, but you save a more precious commodity, time. This is your way to pay money and save time.
You can always make more money, but you never get back the time you spend. With the extra fee, you can now get through college in the same time as you were supposed to, before the budget cuts. You could have your bachelor’s degree in four years. Many of us have to wait for class availability. Now, you can move on with your life and career. Without it, you are stuck in limbo, delayed from earning your degree and a potential job.
Plenty of people, however, are against this policy. Some feel that it will create a two-tier educational system where the wealthy get what they need and everyone else is passed over. This is myopic and detached from reality. In the process of getting your degree, you are going to spend at least $25,000 or even up to hundreds of thousands of dollars depending on where and how far you go.
If you need to take a science class with a lab, you can have a tough time finding one. If you really need the class to transfer, this program will assure you that you can take the class and won’t have to wait another semester to graduate or transfer. Taking a few classes at a higher rate is a drop in the bucket in comparison to the whole college budget. With the money you spend on this class, you can start working sooner and paying off those loans as they often accumulate interest while you are in school.
You may even come out ahead financially, if that is the case. Borrow the money now and get back the dignity in choosing your path based on what you want instead of what you need. This is a chance to use the system to our advantage. Don’t fight the gift that has been given to us: the gift of time. These additional classes are a chance for students to avoid having their lives on hold while our educational institutions sort out financial problems.
It is a chance for students to get into the workplace faster and establish a career and independence from these institutions that are wasting our precious time and money for the sake of rules that are not in the interests of students. Most people ought to agree that education is intrinsically good. To provide extended access to education promotes a good thing.
If the wealthy take advantage of these additional classes, then there is more money that is coming into the system, which is money that we need. This is a systemic solution for a systemic problem. It isn’t going to fix everything and it isn’t going to help everyone at once. Many of us can appreciate the desire to be treated equally but more of us would rather just finish college already.
A major problem is the current system of rationing education out to those who are able to get their name picked from a hat. Anyone who has really needed a class but wasn’t able to get it, knows how unjust the system can be. Our current system of adding classes does not reward based on merit or need. There should never be a policy to commit injustice.
When we look at the state of ELAC and the effect the budget cuts have had, we ought to do something about it. Education is intrinsically good. Time is a commodity that you cannot put a price on. We may never get justice for the budget cuts, but now, at least we can have our education in time for us to get on with living.