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Charging More for Popular Classes?

A few weeks ago, I read about a community college in California that was considering charging more for the most popular—and therefore harder to get in to—classes. The article from The Atlantic indicates that these popular classes are the ones required for graduation and to be able to transfer. Santa Monica College has 34,000 students and since 2008 the state has reduced the money they receive which required the college to offer fewer classes.  According to this article:

“This week, the school announced that it would begin offering more expensive versions of its most popular courses during the summer in order to accommodate students who can’t take them during the school year. The classes will be offered at cost, since the college is providing them without any subsidy from the state. The price works out to $180 a credit — not a huge sum, but still five-times what students pay now.”

Although it is understandable that the college wants to make these courses available and in a way they can afford, this is very disturbing. The students who can afford this will be the ones who are able to take advantage of the summer option.

This week, the NY Times reported that Santa Monica College has decided to hold off on this two-tiered system.

Following a week of student protests and a request from the chancellor of the California community college system to hold off, Santa Monica College has canceled its plan to offer certain popular courses at higher prices this summer.

That solves the problem of unfairness— that those who can afford the classes get them—but it doesn’t address the underlying problem of not enough classes to graduate on time.

Janet Rosier

3 Responses

  1. Janet Rosier says:

    Your point is well taken. I also did the math and was very surprised that they charged only $36 a credit.

  2. hmm says:

    Just a thought. $180 a credit was 5 times what they usually pay. That means it usually costs $36 a credit. Most community colleges cost between $100-$200 per credit. You wonder why California has no money. The post stated that $180 is at cost. Does that mean that 4/5 of the tuition is usually subsidized? I agree that costs for higher education are rediculous but this is on the other end of the equation.

  3. Trainspotter says:

    This highlights a chronic problem and one that contributes to the high cost of higher education. Colleges accept students into degree programs but often don’t provide enough seats in required classes each year to satisfy the numbers they enrolled. Some of these required course are only offered once a year or on a rotating basis. Students end up taking more time to graduate because they have to fill their schedules with unnecessary classes to maintain their full time status while waiting to get into the classes they really need. This ends up increasing the costs to themselves or their parents. Add the whole “prerequisite” factor into the mix and scheduling can be a nightmare. Maybe they should dump the unnecessary classes and focus their resources on required courses.