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Palomar College should start offering four-year degrees

An aerial view of Palomar College at dusk. Sept. 29, 2014. (Angela Marie Samora/The Telescope)

At long last Palomar Community College may soon increase their contribution to our community’s academic and economic environment by offering a four-year program.

There is an increasing number of jobs in California requiring a B.A. in a discipline that is not currently offered at the university level. State Senator Marty Block, D-Calif. introduced Senate Bill 850 allowing a select 15 out of the 112 community colleges in California to initiate a pilot program to offer a baccalaureate’s degree.

Here are three reasons why Palomar College and the community will benefit:

First of all, a four-year program will generate additional revenue for Palomar. Secondly, a four-year program will make obtaining the B.A. affordable and convenient for the residents in this region. The third reason is that the B.A. program allows the community college to help fill the gap in the workforce by contributing to California’s increasing demand for those graduating with a B.A. degree in a discipline not offered at a university.

The increased enrollment for the new four-year program will create a new source of revenue for Palomar.

A four-year B.A. program at Palomar College will be convenient for residents in this district who cannot relocate due to family or work responsibilities and will make it more affordable to obtain a degree which may not be offered locally.

Within the next decade, California will be looking to increase its number of B.A. graduates by one million. In order for this to happen the community colleges must prepare to contribute to the demand for a higher educated workforce beyond the associate degree level.

The Hechinger Report dated April 10, 2014 states community colleges across 21 states are already offering the four year B.A. program successfully. The cost of a B.A. course at St. Petersburg College is $118.70 per credit hour compared to $271.19 at nearby University of South Florida. Yearly full time tuition and fees for a B.A. at a Florida community college is $3,541 per year compared to $6,069 at a public university.

Across the state, enrollment in Florida for those seeking a B.A. from a community college has nearly quadrupled to over 30,000 in five years. This is attributed to the lower cost of the degree from the community college and the convenience for part-time students and working parents.

SB 850 states that the 21st century workplace has increasing demands for a higher level of education in applied fields. There is a gap between what is offered at a university and what is offered at the community college level. Adding a B.A. curriculum for these specialty fields to a California community college would be the model solution for filling this gap.

When Palomar College first opened its doors in 1946, I’m sure no one imagined that someday it would be offering a four-year degree. Now, Palomar has one large campus and 6 education sites with approximately 30,000 full and part-time students who can choose from over 250 programs that offer associate degrees, certificate programs, personal growth classes and programs for students transferring to a four-year university. Palomar has certainly been progressive and productive.

Currently, California is in 14th place in the nation for the 25 to 34-year-olds with a B.A., according to the Public Policy Institute of California. The California Community Colleges Baccalaureate Degree Study Group said that state public institutions award close to 110,000 B.A. degrees each year and private institutions award 40,000. By the year 2025 this will need to be increased by 40 percent in order to meet the projected demands of the workforce. Palomar College B.A. program will help to fill the gap in today’s workforce and make a considerable contribution to our academic community and continue to work in harmony with our universities.


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Palomar College should start offering four-year degrees