The leaves are changing colors. The cool fall winds seem to taunt and hint that winter is fast approaching. But if you have no idea that these outdoor splendors are occurring, you might be one of the many students this semester with too much to do and a lot of stress.
Community college students today are taking on a lot more than they can handle. According to the U.S. Department of Education, “Students at public 2-year institutions are more likely to have dependents, work full-time, and delay enrollment than those at 4-year institutions.” Also included in the department’s research was evidence that 80 percent of undergraduates at 4- and less-than-4-year institutions worked during the 1999-2000 school year: 48 percent identifying themselves as students who were working on the side, and the other 32 percent as employees who decided to enroll in school.
With a vast majority of community college students working, many full-time and some with dependents, it is no wonder that Yuba College students complain about stress. Sophomore Matthew Cervantes plans to transfer to CSU Chico after two years. However, the only way he can do so is by being overloaded: carrying 20 units a semester, tutoring, holding a job on weekends, and struggling to find time for friends, family and homework.
“This has been the worst semester so far, but it’s not just me. I think it’s starting to wear thin on everyone around here,” states Cervantes.A survey conducted in 1999 by the “Chronicle for Higher Education” polled 261,217 freshmen from 462 separate institutions during the first few weeks of class. The annual survey found that 30 percent of students who had entered college reported they had frequently felt overwhelmed with the things they had to do. This statistic has risen 16 percent since 1985, illustrating an increase in perceived stress among college students over the last 17 years.
Some students say that stress can be a good motivator. A sixteen year-old concurrently enrolled student, Heather Rogers, said, “Stress can be a good thing because it can force you to do more with your life.”
Rogers, a home-schooled high school senior, is currently taking courses at Yuba College to fulfill her graduation requirements. She is getting a lot of her schooling completed now so she can meet her goal of going to UC Berkeley in the fall.
On top of her rigorous class schedule, Rogers tutors, like Cervantes. When asked how busy she anticipates she will be once she gets to Berkeley, she admitted, “It’s probably going to be a lot more than what I am doing now.”
Many students attending community colleges with the intent of transferring to a university are finding the original “two-years-and-transfer plan” not all they thought it to be. In order to transfer to a CSU, a student must have 39 General Education units completed (but not exceeding 70), and to be considered a full-time student, one must be enrolled in at least 12 units a semester.
If a student takes 12 units a semester, it will take just over 3 semesters to meet GE requirements (not including electives or classes related to a major). So it comes as no surprise that an average unit load for a college student nowadays is around 16-20 units per semester.
Sophomore Mike Smith had to drop classes this semester. “The two-year workload was just too much,” said Smith. “I believe that two-year colleges in general may be promising too much to incoming freshmen with their two-year proposals, or at least, promising them too much stress,” he said with a smirk.