By BRYNN SAITO, program coordinator, Department of Writing, Consciousness, and Creative Inquiry
With state budget cuts hitting California's community colleges this summer and fall, California Institute of Integral Studies' (CIIS) Bachelor of Arts Completion program is strategizing ways to aid students in need of supplemental educational support. "With the budget cuts, transfer centers are no longer able to provide certain services, like career workshops, to their students, and they’re partnering with private universities like CIIS for assistance,” notes Michelle Eng, Director of the School of Undergraduate Studies at CIIS.
According to a recent report in the SF Chronicle, billions of dollars in taxes that would protect community college courses are set to expire this June, and nearly 400,000 students could find themselves without classes and resources to return to in the fall.
CIIS' Bachelor of Arts (BAC) Completion program—which offers a degree in interdisciplinary studies for students who have completed the equivalent of the first two years of college—has relationships with a number of local community and city colleges, including Skyline College, Berkeley City College, Diablo Valley, and College of Marin.
Currently, the program is offering a workshop called "Introductions to Careers in Psychology" at Berkeley City College, Diablo Valley, and Skyline. The workshop, facilitated by BAC faculty member Monique LeSarre, provides an overview of career options for students interested in pursing a psychology degree. Last week's workshop at Skyline College attracted over 50 students. This fall, the BA Completion program will offer an additional career development workshop called "The Writing Life: Careers in Writing,” which will introduce college students to professional opportunities in fields of publishing, grant-writing, teaching and editing. Both workshops utilize engaged, participatory learning techniques, and are offered on-site in partnership with college transfer centers at no cost to students.
Last summer, when community colleges in California scaled back their summer course offerings due to budget cuts, the Institute’s BA Completion program opened a portion of elective courses to students in need of units. This summer, rather than enrolling students for a fee, the program plans to open its two-day intensive Academic Writing Workshop to students at specific community colleges, at no cost. The two-day intensive will take place on July 23-24, and again on August 6-7.
Such outreach initiatives allow CIIS to create and maintain key relationships with local transfer centers, while providing free professional development workshops and writing skills services to California college students feeling the effects of the budget cuts.