Local News

January 17, 2014

Growing college degree pressure?

DSC officials considering less choices for students

“We’re humans, not worker bees,” says Dalton State College student J.D. Garcia.

That’s the pathos some students feel after learning about Complete College Georgia, Gov. Nathan Deal’s education initiative to get 250,000 graduates by 2020, part of a larger trend across the nation.

Part of the state education push, which began in 2011, has charged college leaders to come up with solutions to get students graduating faster. Why? To fill looming vacancies in the workforce, particularly in tech-heavy industries that, even now, don’t always have candidates when job openings exist.

State lawmakers have also been discussing tying college funding to benchmarks like on-time graduation rates as an incentive to spur more education reform. A similar funding system is also being discussed for primary schools where a new law this year requires all eighth-graders to pick one of 17 career pathways formulated by state leaders before entering high school.

These moves have Dalton State administrators considering limiting how often students can change their major, withdrawal from classes or retake classes. The idea is to keep students “focused” on the endgame of graduation, said Sandra Stone, vice president for academic affairs for the college.

To some students, this is counter to the notion of college being a time of self-exploration and growth when many begin to develop their identities outside of their families for the first time.

“I think placing these limitations on students limits their personal growth,” said Mary Suggs, a student who started at the college in 2012. “In my first two years, I’ve changed my major a handful of times, and I still don’t know what I want. If they place a limit to how many times we can change our majors, then eventually we will get stuck with one that we may not like. And then we have our lives roughly mapped out for us.”

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