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College Dropouts

In: English and Literature

Submitted By mishoo
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College Dropouts: Can CSM do more? Every year even a greater number of high school graduates decide to attend, four year and community, college as an extension of their parents’ “American Dream”. Yet consistently even a greater number of them become college dropouts after a short stay. Yvonne Raley states in
“Why We Quit” that “Two-year public colleges have a worse record, graduating fewer than 30 percent of their students” (5). The question is: What is causing this and what may be the remedies.? College of San Mateo (CSM) has become an active participant in addressing lack of student study skills and student socio-economic background as the most important reasons for student dropout in community colleges. “Community Colleges have become dumping ground for all the educational problems in the rest of the system” Allen (14). The majority of students arrive at colleges unprepared for college work. Additionally, a great majority of us have been placed in remedial classes to which we neither relate, nor belong since a great majority us are not proficient in 8th-10th grades of either subjects. Most of the substandard students who have passed through the K-12 system lack the skills, or the focus, or the knowledge to deal with college. A vast majority of students in community colleges, some 70% of them, fail to graduate.
At CSM Freshman retention rate, due to lack of basic study skills, is taken very seriously, steps are taken to help us understand the subject material better. A multilevel organization has been put in place to help students who struggle scholastically. The first line of defense has, as always, remained with Academic Counselors ( Bldg. 1, room 115). They can help us with their educational goals, academic planning, and resolving personal concerns that interfere with the our ability to succeed in college. A second option for assistance lies with the CSM Faculty teachers. Regular teacher/student conferences are arranged (Bldg. 15, 17), so that the additional contact can help the student understand the material curriculum assignments and learn how to focus and use better skills to understand the subject matter. CSM Study Center (bld. 18) also allows students to seek help from other teachers and students to better the odds of the mechanics of learning.

Teachers do also arrange for in class peer work groups, which can further all of the above by covering even more relevant critical material. This constant emphasis on repetition through process, clearly amplifies the philosophy of “practice makes perfect”, or in our case
“makes our study skills better”. CSM Peer Support Services (Bldg. 14, room218) can be a more user friendly organization for us. (Although they allow us to join a variety of clubs and non-formal social groups, where we can share mutual interests, and through our interests to bond with our peers).
But even more emphasis is placed on conversations with our peers so that they can promote scholastic problem solving within our interest and study groups. In the Pact, George Jenkins states “We know, too, that the right friends inspire you, pull you through, rise with you” George Jenkins, “The Pact” (3). It is through these peer social interactions that we (the students) can learn scholastic survival skills and most importantly help each other with the short comings in our study skills, and draw from one another’s study strengths. Our peers/ school friends, can help and motivate us to fight against the urge to give up and drop out when things become though and our basic study skills can not cope with the pressures of every day demands of project dead lines and college life. As George Jenkins notes,
“We had the same core desire to make something of our lives, and we brought out the best in one another” (109). Unfortunately, we may think these sources won’t make a difference in their grades and classes., and we may also just be giving up without even trying. There are resources and help out there, but they are not going to come and find us. We the students need to put the effort in, in searching all and every avenue in finding these resources, which may include asking faculty members and any other number of CSM specialized department members for help. These staff member are almost always a source of encouragement and positive feedback for us and can assist us to carry on, by helping us to explore most effective of these avenues for assistance. The socio economic conditions which the students come from, remains the second most important reason. The most obvious reason of students from better economic conditions to remain in college remains to be choice. These students decide to continue and dropping out becomes a non-starter, since they do not see it as a viable choice. On the other hand students with lower income back ground always see other remedial jobs, such as jobs in the service industry, as a back up plan to dropping out of college, incase if things do not work out. “I’m pretty fortunate to not have a degree but have a job where I wear a tie everyday ” Leonhardt, “Class Matters: The College Dropout Boom” (11). Students from poor or working class backgrounds have been falling behind in colleges, since for them coming from families and parents who have no college education is matter of
“the norm”. The social expectations from these students remains low. They can get a low paying job and continue living within the expectations of their family and friends, when the counterparts, the upper middle class students, continuously are pushed by their social circumstances to be more successful than their parents. On a personal level I can relate to the parental influence and their inherent expectations of my college life. They are driven and single minded with respect to my attendance and perseverance at my CSM classes. Both my parents believe, and consequently drill it through my head, that there is nothing more important than a good education. They insist that my education must be relevant to the current needs and wants of the future job market. Their obsession with my future stems from their own back ground as immigrants who started with very little and had to adapt to the ways of their new Home Country and compete in the a job market, which challenged them to overcome stiff competition. They laugh at any mention of socio-economic structures in The U.S. and insist that these are meaningless, and that the only determinant for my future will be my education. Where they came from and how rich their families were has never tainted them and they understand that the greatest investment that they will ever make in their life time will be their children and their education.
To that extent they have always encouraged me to challenge myself and never give up, even when I’m told directly by others to do so.
As mentioned before CSM as an educational institution offers a variety of comprehensive programs to their students. One of my favorites is the Career Services Center (Bldg. 1, room 218). Similar to the Academic Counselors they help us discover the type of jobs or career that most fits our passion, skills, and abilities. They can also help us with the selection of college majors and/ or carriers. All these services attempt to achieve a better rate of student retention, by creating an environment which best suites the our specific needs in order to succeed. The dropout rates of colleges are astonishing. As tuition goes up, fewer and fewer people sign up for college and classes. “Then there is the cost. Tuition bills scare some students from even applying and leaves others with years of debt” Leonhardt, “Class Matters”: The college
Dropout Boom (9). Two year community colleges such as CSM can remain the alternative to the four year elite and public colleges, so far as finances are concerned. CSM is relatively cheaper, however, other costs such as books and class material remain high. To that extent CSM offers a variety of services to attending students which could make these costs more bare able for us. Through Financial Aid and scholarship programs CSM has made three resources available to students to help fund education. These resources have specific eligibility requirements. The first and most common way is through something called the Board of
Governors Grant fee waiver or the BOGG which most of our students qualify. The BOGG does not cover the cost of books but, all of the classes offered through Supported Education provide the materials for their classes. Another available resource is Extended Opportunity Program and
Services (EOPS), which covers the cost of books and bus passes.
Finally, many of the colleges with higher low-income student’s enrollment usually have a narrower range of majors, which create very little chance of competition/ relevance for better jobs for those group of students. If those students try to better the odds of success by enrolling into elite colleges first hurdle for them will remain lack of funds, which is the primary reason that they cannot attend those colleges.
Unfortunately, due to recession, recent lack of funding and cuts at State and Federal level
CSM has suffered as far as the range of majors and classes that are offered to us. Entire departments, such as foreign languages (Chinese) have been decimated in the recent years. This remains a serious short fall for the near future and it may get even worse due to the current
California Budget short falls which are in billions of Dollars.
In my opinion, the tables are stacked against many students who try to attend public, four or two, year colleges. If you are from the elite of the society then either by the power of your parental connections, or financial means you will be able to attend the elite colleges, who present a higher percentage of retaining their students through graduation, in comparison to their public college counter parts.
On the other hand, if we are from a low-income background or have suffered through lack luster high school graduation process (both can go hand in hand sometimes), will suffer through attending public colleges or two year community colleges both of which show very little range of success for graduating students. Unless if we become one of the few, who break the trend by committing to the work, focusing on task at hand, remaining consistent in our performance, and most importantly bucking the system by wanting more and better for ourselves and loved ones in the future. In life the possibility of failure is always there and we must respect it, but never be afraid of it and understand that a great many of our efforts will be fruitful. So long as we the students accept that given all the help and circumstance that is provided for us by our schools, parents
,and society the ultimate challenge in anything that we attempt for the sake of our future success in life must be inborn and we have to have the hunger for it no matter what!

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