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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