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Everyone’s in School

September 29, 2010

My community college class is packed. Apparently all sections are full and my undesirable evening class is still getting ok attendance a month or so into the semester. Summer classes were cut by 50% due to budget restrictions but I think the classes now are the normal load. Just that there are suddenly a lot more students. And not older, unemployed students (though there are a few of those) but young, fresh out of high school students.
 
The US Secretary of Transportation posted recently on his blog about his experiences at a community college as well as a future White House Summit on community college. From my personal experience, more students are utilizing community college programs, students from all walks of life. I know an aerospace engineer who after graduating started at his local college in the A&P program (airframe and powerplant) usually meant for technicians. You know when engineers are pursuing this they think it's important in this economy. And it could be cutbacks at other colleges have meant more students flowing into community college, some that planned to to save money or some for whom it might have been a second choice.
 
My university classes appear to be at the same capacity, despite the fact that tuition is measurably higher this year and I think there are a few more students than normal trying to cram in their final year right along with me. One of my professors used the word interdisciplinary about ten times, so I know what message is being pushed down from the top. For engineers who really ought to be thinking about specializing in the future of their careers I'm not sure how this will play out in the class. I wonder though if it isn't part of the overall grant/research effort and for the university to cover their asses on funding they lost from the government. Hard to say whether the ploy will work, or what affect all this will continue to have on the students.
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