To Be… Or Not To Be… Declared

tobe-declaredinvertIt’s always been OK in California to, kind of, chill for a while in community college while you figure out exactly why you’re there.  Times are changing.  Even if you’re unsure of what your particular future holds, students are being pressured to declare their college majors sooner than ever before.


“But wait,” you say. “A lot of people just aren’t sure if they want to major in psychology, minor in business, or major in sociology!”  According to the California Community Colleges Student Success Task Force, research from the Institute for Higher Education Leadership and Policy shows that students who entered a specified program in their first year were twice as likely to complete a certificate, degree, or transfer as students who entered a program after their first year.


The point is, knowing what major you declare gives you pride, drive, momentum, determination and an emotional connection to your classes.  According to various California community college counseling departments, students must declare their majors by the completion of their 60th unit.  But, students are saying, “Let’s throw out this 60 unit mumbo-jumbo.”


Students should have the time to complete  24 transferable units before they are forced to declare.  That number gives students who need the time to complete their non-college level (but required) prerequisites, the time to do so.  It also gives students the time to see their counselors more than once to get their educational plan situated.


People aren’t going to be allowed to have the luxury of taking their time coasting through their community college life until they’re 35 anymore, just “figuring it out.”  California doesn’t have the money for that.  Not to mention the fact that only 22.5 percent of students at Citrus College graduate, receive a certificate or transfer to another school is just plain sad.


It used to be different.  The state government enforces a Matriculation Act, which ensures that all community college students are required to have support provided to them by school counselors to help them define and attain their educational goals.  Based on that Act, California’s Board Of Governors adopted rules and regulations that require students to take assessment tests, go to orientation, go to counselors and follow up, as long as funding for those programs were available.


For years, this is how California community colleges operated.  However, 52 percent of the Matriculation program’s funding was cut in the 2009-2010 state budget, turning an already bad situation into a statewide crisis.  If students don’t go to their counselors to help them figure out what classes they need to attend, the government won’t continue to give us money for school.  It’s really as simple as that.


The SSTF also states: “A student who is unable to declare a major or program of study by the end of their second term should be provided counseling and career planning interventions to assist them. Students who fail to declare a program of study after their third term should lose enrollment priority.”


The nitty-gritty is, that the SSTF wants to guide you through community college as fast as possible, so if you aren’t declared you’ll probably lose your hard-earned priority registration.


Students should be required to see a counselor for help even before we’re even able to register for the semester’s class haul.  You know how if you don’t pay your fees, Citrus puts a hold onto your account and you can’t add any classes?  Yeah, me too.


The idea is simple—you must get yourself into the counseling office in order to get ahead in your academic life, which is exactly what the government is trying to get us to do here.


Also, keep in mind that whatever major you choose isn’t set in stone.  If you need to change it down the line, you can.  There are lists upon lists of different job opportunities that you can strive for in almost any major.


Figure it out.  Don’t be complacent.  Be declared.  No more of this Shakespeare stuff.


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