California community college bachelor’s degree pilot program

California became the 20th state to offer bachelor’s degrees at community colleges when Gov. Jerry Brown signed Calif. Senate Bill 850 on Sunday, Sept. 28.

The pilot program will allow 15 California community colleges to offer bachelor’s degrees starting in 2017. Each school can offer no more than one bachelor’s degree, which cannot be a degree that is currently offered by a Cal. State University or University of California school.

It is unknown if Pierce College will be one of the 15 schools to participate in the pilot program.

“I think it gives inspiration for kids who feel like they don’t have a lot of options, and this is an option,” English professor Lesley Gouger said. “I’m glad that there’s still tracks for an associates degree. The more people who are able to further their education the better.”

The Community College Baccalaureate Association (CCBA) motto is that every person should have an opportunity to pursue the baccalaureate degree program at a place that is convenient, accessible and affordable.

“There have been other Community Colleges doing this over the years, but we have to find out what’s best and most effective for Pierce College,” director of CTE grants Michael Flowers said. “Community College gives students more nurturing, foundation skills, and helps them to develop effectively.”

Community colleges like Pierce typically offer lower tuition than four-year colleges and universities.

“I think it’s awesome for people on a budget, because it is cheaper to get a degree here, and you get to stay familiar with your environment,” Pierce College freshman Gloria Medina said.  “Instead of branching out, going through the process of applying to another school, and all the anxiousness that comes with it.”

But not everyone agrees that community colleges should offer bachelor’s degrees.

“I think this could be a costly mistake. I don’t really think it’s a good thing. The whole point of junior college is to prepare you for a university. It defeats the purpose,” criminal justice major Selene McClirkin said. “It also depends on how much it would cost and if it’s equivalent to a university.”