National

Oct 12, 2009 5:46 PM by Associated Press

College cutbacks make it harder to earn degrees

It isn't just tuition increases that are driving up the cost of college. Around the country, deep budget cuts are forcing colleges to lay off instructors and eliminate some classes, making it harder for students to get into the courses they need to earn their degree.

The likely result: more time in college.

And while that may sound agreeable to nostalgic alumni, to students like Michael Redoglia, time is money.

Early this semester at San Francisco State University, Redoglia unsuccessfully crashed 26 different classes, hoping to find space that would move him closer to a hospitality management degree. Outside some classrooms, wait-listed students took turns standing closest to the door so they could hear the lecture and not fall too far behind should they get in.

Redoglia, a fourth-year student, is now enrolled in just two courses. He could lose financial aid, and his plan to finish his degree in 4 1/2 years is up in smoke.

"This semester has put me back another full year," said Redoglia, adding that the delay is "killing me financially."

Early this semester at San Francisco State University, Redoglia unsuccessfully crashed 26 different classes, hoping to find space that would move him closer to a hospitality management degree. Outside some classrooms, wait-listed students took turns standing closest to the door so they could hear the lecture and not fall too far behind should they get in.

Redoglia, a fourth-year student, is now enrolled in just two courses. He could lose financial aid, and his plan to finish his degree in 4 1/2 years is up in smoke.

"This semester has put me back another full year," said Redoglia, adding that the delay is "killing me financially."

Around the country, the belt-tightening has made the usual begging and pleading with professors to make more space especially urgent.

"Some of them are more open - they understand you're trying to get into classes you need," said Haley Sink, a sophomore at Virginia Tech from Kernersville, N.C., who failed to get into several classes this year and hopes to avoid a fifth year of out-of-state tuition. "Others say, `I absolutely cannot handle more students.'"

Money isn't necessarily the only problem, some experts argue. Patrick Callan, president of the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education, said universities focus too much on prestigious but unessential graduate programs at the expense of the undergraduate basics. Others want professors pushed harder to teach essential courses instead of their own boutique interests - and students to accept more unpopular, early-morning slots.

But some students say they are out of choices.

Sherrie Canedo, a fifth-year senior at Cal State-East Bay, was recently told she could finish her ethnic studies degree through independent study because most of the courses she needs were eliminated.

"I don't feel that's an acceptable way to learn," said Canedo, who is working two jobs and trying to string together enough financial aid to finish her education. "I'm paying to be taught in a classroom."

 

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