There was an interesting article in yesterday's Los Angeles Times about a group of faculty members at Santa Ana College who have started a scholarship fund for students who cannot afford the $600 it costs to attend full time. It is a public community college in Orange County which serves "the densely populated, impoverished core of Santa Ana". Half the student body is Latino/Latina, and 60% receive financial aid. Many are the first in their families to attend college. The scholarship fund is particularly helpful to non-citizens and non-California residents, who are not eligible for financial aid.
Maximina Guzman, student government president and a former student of [chemistry professor Jeff] McMillan, plans to apply for the scholarship.I think that Associate's degree-awarding community colleges are often neglected in the discussion of science education. They serve a student population that is more likely to to have dependents and be working full time than their counterparts at 4-year institutions. It allows students who are not academically or financially prepared to enter a 4-year degree program to earn a degree that will prepare them to work as a technician or, if they are so inclined, to transfer an institution that grants Bachelor's degrees.
Because she is not a citizen -- she and her parents came to the United States illegally when she was 3 -- she is not eligible for financial aid. The biology student has paid her own way, working full time at a hotel gift shop and moonlighting as a telemarketer.
Guzman said her grades have suffered because she had to balance homework, two jobs and family obligations. She usually finds time to study only between 10 p.m. and 3 a.m.
If she is awarded a scholarship, she could cut down on weekend work hours, she said.
"It's frustrating to know that I could get better grades if I didn't have to work all the time," she said.
It is perhaps not surprising that women receive a higher proportion of Associate's degrees than Bachelor's degrees in scientific fields. Some statistics from the National Center for Education Statistics:
- Women were awarded a higher proportion of the science degrees at 2-year institutions than at 4-year institutions (Tables 18, 19 and M2):
Field % Associates Degrees
awarded to women
% Bachelors Degrees
awarded to women
all degrees 60% 57% biological or
66% 58% computer and
43% 28% physical sciences 52% 40%
- Students at 2-year institutions are more likely to have dependents and be a single parent (tab 35):
Institution type 1 dependent 2 or more
single parents public 2-year 13.8% 20.7% 16.4% public 4-year
10.4% 12.1% 11.1% public 4-year
7.3% 7.4% 8.1%
- Students are more likely to work full time while attending a 2-year institution (tab 44):
Institution type Did not work Work full time Hours Worked
(for those who worked)
Public 2-year 15.8% 53.8% 36.0/39.3 Public 4-year
20.3% 32.1% 29.5/29.6 Public 4-year
24.4% 21.7% 26.0/24.3
(Oh, BTW, if you happen to be in California, please buy lots and lots of lottery tickets, because that's what's funding our education system.)
Tags: California community college, science education